Tony Keenan advised the winner of the Coral.ie Hurdle at 26.025/1 last year and is back with a pair of selections for the big handicap hurdle this Sunday...
"That’s A Wrap won a slowly-run and thus messy race last time but he looked much the best having made up remarkable late ground on the outside to get up by half-a-length. The lack of pace looked all against him as he stays further but that he won at all marks him down as a well-treated sort and with a rise of seven pounds seems weighted to go well again."
Back That’s A Wrap @ 11.010/1 in the Coral.ie Handicap Hurdle
Dry January is taking on a whole new meaning for those involved with national hunt racing as the going for the Coral.ie handicaps at Leopardstown is generally yielding. No matter what weather website you use, there is little or no rain forecast between now and then so the ground could even have some good in it come the weekend.
That gives the races a different look to what is typically the case at this time of year though Leopardstown is a course that drains well; should we get a good ground Thyestes at Gowran next Thursday we can probably expect the apocalypse shortly afterwards!
Oppose City with the young and the old
One horse that is sure to be suited by a decent surface in the Coral.ie Hurdle is Heartbreak City and there are really no great negatives about him bar his price of 3.55/2. On his Melbourne Cup second, he' a 110 plus flat horse so really should be going very close off 125 while his last start over hurdles was impressive.
Having been tight for room until late in the straight at Galway, he showed push-button quickness to put the race to bed and is only seven pounds higher now. His stable has been a little quiet - 0/54 in Irish jump races since the start of December - but had a winner at Hereford last week so it is hardly a major concern. The price, however, is off-putting.
Tony Martin's other runner Golden Spear is a player too and the trainer has a habit of getting multiple runners into the frame in these valuable handicaps, flat and jumps; from what we could see in the fog at Ascot last month, he was left with too much to do while his previous start over hurdles in the 2015 Lartigue worked out really well. At the prices though I prefer That's A Wrap and Hidden Cyclone.
That's A Wrap won a slowly-run and thus messy race last time but he looked much the best having made up remarkable late ground on the outside to get up by half-a-length. The lack of pace looked all against him as he stays further but that he won at all marks him down as a well-treated sort and with a rise of seven pounds seems weighted to go well again.
Hidden Cyclone is at the completely opposite end of his career but most if not all of his ability seems intact; he was a good third in the Fighting Fifth last time and sectionals suggested he was the best horse on the day having forced a strong pace. That form has worked out with both Petit Mouchoir and Apple's Jade winning Grade 1s since and the handicapper has taken a chance with leaving him on 146. A borderline Grade 1 chaser, he might be better in smaller fields but the price is too big to miss.
Stellar Notion and Bentelimar look the value in Chase
The Leopardstown Chase is an interesting market as it could look very different after final declarations; Ball D'Arc is far from a certain runner after winning last Sunday while A Toi Phil has other entries in the near-term too. Stellar Notion is one that jumps out having shaped well in the Paddy Power over Christmas, a race that looks strong form. Jumping well on the lead, he showed a sharp change-of-gear from the back of the second last to the last only for his stamina to fade in the finish. The drop back in trip is a big plus as is the ground.
Of those at bigger prices, Bentelimar is interesting. His first two runs over fences can be forgotten as he was simply in races he couldn't win. Last time was better as he seemed not to get home over an extended three miles and that form is good with the second and the fourth winning since. The handicapper hasn't missed him - he is only six pounds lower than his peak hurdles mark off the back of only one decent chase run - but these are his ideal conditions and has more potential than most of these.
Back That's A Wrap @ 11.010/1 and Hidden Cyclone @ 26.025/1 in the Coral.ie Handicap Hurdle
Back Stellar Notion @ 11.010/1 and Bentelimar @ 21.020/1 in the Coral.ie Handicap Chase