Two Irish meetings this afternoon, one on the flat and another over jumps, and Tony Keenan has previewed both for betting.betfair.com readers...
"Escapability put in an excellent return on the first day of the season at Naas, stepping up on previous form after the move to Jessica Harrington, and arguably shaped best of the front three."
You have to wonder at the planning of racing fixtures sometimes. Yesterday's Grand National card was the feature of the year in terms of general interest, TV viewership and betting turnover yet someone saw fit to have Leopardstown on at the same time with its intriguing classic trials card that hosted Gustav Klimt, Alpha Centauri and The Pentagon amongst others. That meeting deserved the spotlight on its own and should have been run today.
One can make the justifications that one meeting was in Ireland and the other in the UK or that the audience for flat and jumps racing are different but both arguments ring hollow; in general, racing fans like both codes and many will have been splitting their attention and channel-hopping yesterday. In any case, Saturday is traditionally the lesser day of the weekend for racecourse attendance in Ireland and we are left today with two meetings in southern part of the country which is not ideal.
Cork 14:00 - Harrington runner sets a high bar for rivals
Tipping odds-on shots isn't the norm here but I don't have any problem with backing such horses and made Escapability closer to [1.6] than the prices currently available. He put in an excellent return on the first day of the season at Naas, stepping up on previous form after the move to Jessica Harrington, and arguably shaped best of the front three. Not that well away, he did well to pull 11 lengths clear of the fourth with the other main players and put up a decent time. Proven on the ground, he sets a high standard for the debutantes.
Tramore 15:25 - Course form a pointer to Ardera Cross
Like so much of the Irish jumps campaign, this looks like a Mullins versus Elliott clash with Pylonthepressure preferred to Lieutenant Colonel as he showed an impressive engine to complete in the National Hunt Chase last time and should be fine at this trip. However, Timeform described his last run as 'as bad a round of jumping as has been seen by a horse completing at Cheltenham for many a year' and even over these easy fences that is a concern so it could be worth chancing a big-priced alternative with Ardera Cross making some appeal.
His eight runs at this track have produced three wins and two seconds and his sole chase start here seemed to suggest he has improved for fences; on that occasion he beat Glencairn View (now rated 130) with Tongie (now rated 114) a distant third. He didn't get to back up that effort last time at Leopardstown as he fell at the first but that could leave him fresh for this which his trainer believes is important. He looks overpriced as the outsider of the field.
Cork 15:25 - Lincoln runner-up can go one better
Ronan Whelan might like to get another go at his ride on Saltonstall in the Lincoln, seeming to hold on to his mount too long and allowing the winner On The Go Again first run, and the Godolphin four-year-old should make amends off a three pounds higher mark. Of the rest, Allegio was granted a soft when winning here last time and has to contend with a 10lbs rise in the weights; perhaps he will get left alone up front again but he doesn't appear well-treated now. Gymkhana and Aussie Valentine are feasibly handicapped at their best but there is a suspicion both need to be ultra-fresh.
Cork 16:45 - Soft ground to suit Shes An Art
This is quite a competitive 45-70 with Our Anniversary a worthy favourite having won well at the track on seasonal debut and Song Of The Sky likely to step up on what he showed on his first start for Joseph O'Brien. Perhaps Shes An Art is the overpriced one however and it is easy to forgive her final two runs of last season on the all-weather as she seems in need of soft ground which she gets now.
Some of her form from last year suggests a mark of 67 is lenient, not least the second to On The Go Again and the third to Light That, and in general she goes well fresh. Furthermore, she ran well in an equivalent race on this card last year on seasonal return and her yard has been among the winners recently.
2018 P+L: -20.6 points
1 Point Back Escapability @ [2.1] or bigger in the Cork 14:00
0.5 Point Back Ardera Cross @ [21.0] or bigger in the Tramore 15:25
0.5 Point Place Back Ardera Cross @ [6.0] or bigger in the Tramore 15:25
1 Point Back Saltonstall @ [2.9] or bigger in the Cork 15:35
1 Point Back Shes An Art @ [9.0] or bigger in the Cork 16:45