The excitement is starting to build by the day as the jump season looms ever closer on the horizon, and there is a good chase in Ireland today with the Kerry National.
Three of the four that head the market represent the Mullins/Elliot yards, but I confess to not being wildly keen on any of them. There is no doubt that Blazer has a good race in him but 3m on soft ground doesn’t scream that opportunity to me for all that he finished a good second in a beginners chase under such conditions in Dec 2016. I can certainly let a Mullins/JP fav go at the prices.
Elliot is typically well represented and his two at the head of the market are Jury Duty and Rogue Angel. Again, neither get me wildly motivated to get involved, with both running to marks that their ratings already represent. Of course, Elliot is a genius in these type of races but at the prices I can let someone else pay to find out.
Snow Falcon is a horse that will win a big handicap of his mark of 148, but I think the ground has gone against him today, so I find myself looking (as ever!) at the bigger prices to find an angle. And two interest me….
The first is VIEUX MORVAN (145) who still looks nicely treated off a mark of 138, and has Shane Shortall taking off a useful 3lbs today. He earnt his mid-140s figure from me when running a huge race behind Last Goodbye last season with subsequent Irish National winner General Principle back in fourth. That was on soft ground, which he gets again today and he was going well enough when brought down at Galway off this mark last time. The step back up to 3m looks fine having finished 2nd in a Grade 3 in France over 3m2f and and prices of 12/1 look fair to get involved with favourable each way terms around.
The second I am playing is BISHOPS ROAD (151) who could well reward some enterprising placing from the appropriately named Kerry Lee! Usually 10yo aren’t my bag, but Kerry Lee has a good record with older types like this, and it is the fact he comes here fresh after a 201 day break that really piques my interest. His form on soft ground off a break of 6 weeks or more reads 111142, and it is ironically those last two defeats that merit further investigation for this race. He was 4th in Nov 2016 at Newcastle off a mark of 154 beaten just 9 lengths behind Otago Trail (+10lbs now), Bristol De Mai (+11lbs) and Definitly Red (+22lbs) and 14 lengths clear of the 5th horse that day. He now runs off today off a mark of 139….a mere 15lbs lower!
He was 2nd last year first time up in the Rehearsal Chase again at Newcastle off a mark of 144, just getting collared late on by Beware The Bear. He has dropped down to 139 now but his subsequent runs last year can be excused with him not being fresh or on ground too quick. He looks well treated off a mark off 139 today with conditions in his favour, and will surely be primed to run a big race. At 14/1 he is also worth playing.