Saturday at the Dublin Racing Festival is packed with quality and competitive action, and Betfair Ambassador Gordon Elliott has no less than 13 runners on the card...
"Obviously he lacks the experience of some of his rivals here but he's in good shape and can improve further from Fairyhouse so I wouldn't be surprised to see him run a big race."
- Gordon Elliott on Aramax
Will play a big part if this becomes a stamina test
Even though he is stepping up in class to Grade 1 level I could see him running a big race. He has really strengthened up and matured this season and he's shown that in his races with a much improved level of form. I loved the way he finished to win a Grade 3 at Navan in November and he backed that up with a good effort in a Grade 2 back at that track the following month. He will love the longer trip of this race and if this turns into a proper stamina test I could see him playing a big part in the finish. He's progressing all the time and I'd hope there is more to come from him.
Baffled by his last run but he'll go well if on his game
I was left scratching my head after his run over this course and distance in December. He started off over fences with an easy win at Killarney and he beat Sizing Pottsie to win a Grade 2 at Punchestown in November. Last time out everything seemed to be going well up until around halfway where he lost the lead and never looked happy at any stage thereafter. He is much better than that but I'm baffled by that last run and I'm just not sure what to expect this time. He's in good shape and I know if the real Felix Desjy turns up he will run well but I'll be the first to admit he has questions to answer.
Don't be surprised if Aramax runs a big race
Aramax disappointed on his first couple of runs over fences so I wasn't sure what to expect from him at Fairyhouse last time but he won nicely and looked like returning to the level he reached as a juvenile hurdler. Obviously he lacks the experience of some of his rivals here but he's in good shape and can improve further from Fairyhouse so I wouldn't be surprised to see him run a big race.
Or Jaune De Somoza hasn't set the world alight since coming to us but he hasn't been disgraced on any of his runs either and I thought his recent effort in the Dan Moore Chase was encouraging. I think there is a nice handicap to be won with him but he will be at his best on decent ground I think so I'd prefer if the ground was a bit better for him.
Bel Ami De Sivola ran a lovely race behind Impact Factor at Fairyhouse in November but he was very poor in the Dan Moore last time and he never looked to be going at any stage of that race. He is better than he showed there and seems to be in good form at home so if he can recapture his best form he could run well.
Timoteo started off for us with a couple of solid efforts over fences while leaving the impression that he could do better when things fell right for him. However, he ran poorly here at Christmas when he seemed to be on the back foot from early on. A few of our horses disappointed around that time and I'm hoping he can do much better here but he will need to if he is to get involved.
Abacadabras can get involved and Mouchoir should run a solid race
Abacadabras didn't run anywhere near his best here at Christmas but he had a legitimate excuse for that run as he didn't scope well afterwards and I'm happy to draw a line through it. Previously he beat Saint Roi in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown and last season he was among the best two mile novices around. I do believe that he can contend in top hurdle races over two miles and he seems to be in very good form at home so if he can put his best foot forward I would expect him to get involved at the finish. He would prefer better ground though.
Petit Mouchoir is a regular in these races and he has posted many fine efforts over this course and distance over the last few seasons. He has got to produce a career best to win this but I do think he can run his usual solid race and challenge for a place in the frame. His first run for us here at Christmas was quite encouraging as he would have needed that run and he ran like that before finishing out well to finish third to Sharjah. As I say he had to improve to win but I think he will run his usual solid race.
Four runners and I can see them all performing well with a bit of luck
The Very Man has had a nice break since he last ran which will suit him as he can go well fresh. He was well held in the Royal Bond last time but would have been a few lengths closer if he hadn't made a mistake at the last. Previously he was in the process of running a big race in a good handicap hurdle at Down Royal only to part company with his rider at the second last so I think he could show up well. He is in good heart and I'm happy with him so hopefully he could run well.
Eclair de Beaufeu ran well to finish fourth in this race two years ago and he won the two mile handicap chase at this meeting last year so he has plenty of course form that gives him a chance. His last run was poor but he got no cover and was caught wide throughout so I'm happy to draw a line through that. He was actually going to run very well in good handicap at Fairyhouse in November only to come down at the second last and I think if everything falls into place for him he won't be far away.
Eskylane has been a little disappointing over hurdles since winning his maiden at Punchestown. He just hasn't been finishing out his races but we are going to change a few things with him and he is switching from graded races to handicap company which might also suit. We're going to ride him to run well and as a result he is probably going to need plenty of luck in running but if he gets it I could see him showing up well.
Saint D'oroux ran very well in last season's Fred Winter at Cheltenham and since then I've felt that he could pick up a nice handicap at some stage. He returned from a break to run well at Thurles just before Christmas and I think he will improve from that run. He will need to but I could see this strongly run big field handicap suiting him well and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he were to run well.
Can't wait to see this quality horse in action again
This looks an especially hot bumper and is probably one of the most interesting races of the weekend and I'm really looking forward to seeing this horse in action. He bolted up first time out for us at Roscommon and then won nicely at Down Royal from a good horse of Timmy Hyde's in On Eagles Wings.
Since that Down Royal race we have been aiming for this meeting and he is showing me that he has probably improved since he last ran. This is by far his biggest test but I think he's a quality sort who should be at home in good bumpers throughout the spring and I'd expect him to represent us well here.