The Dan Moore Handicap Chase is the feature at Fairyhouse this afternoon and Tony Keenan has a selection for that race along with two others...
"On time-figures Veneer Of Charm achieved more on hurdles debut than Mitchouka has in any of his five runs and there are other reasons to be positive about his Punchestown win."
Willie Mullins endured a disappointing Christmas, at least relative to the 22 winners of 2016, and followers of the yard could be forgiven for wondering where the next star was coming from with established horses like Min, Djakadam and Faugheen under-performing. Footpad is the obvious answer and the stable have another pair of promising novices in Getabird and Invitation Only judging on their victories at Punchestown yesterday. Neither of those made it to Cheltenham last season which could present a conundrum for punters around track effectiveness come March where they are sure to be opposed by more proven Festival performers.
This afternoon at Fairyhouse lacks the graded contests of yesterday's Punchestown meeting but there are a few interesting betting races on the card.
Espoir D'Allen is the main Irish hope for the Triumph Hurdle at this point but it could be significant that he is yet to achieve anything of note on the clock despite four tries over hurdles and that's a comment that also applies to his foil Mitchouka who he has beaten in his last two starts. Furthermore, Mitchouka didn't find as much as seemed likely last time and he looks a favourite to oppose.
On time-figures Veneer Of Charm achieved more on hurdles debut than Mitchouka has in any of his five runs and there are other reasons to be positive about his Punchestown win. He was having his first outing in two-and-a-half months, conceded first run to the runner-up and won going away. His jumping can certainly improve but it was his first hurdles run and this smaller field might help.
Willie Mullins places his horses in confounding ways at times but even so the decision to run both Acapella Bourgeois and Polidam here is surprising; both of those were thought of as three-milers as recently as last month so it is hard to be confident about them over this trip though it was interesting that both were entered in the Champion Chase this week.
A more solid option might be Doctor Phoenix, incidentally another Champion Chase entry. The form of his first two runs for Gordon Elliott worked out well; he was second to Ballyoisin, since graded placed, on his first outing in eight months back in October before doing well to overhaul the enterprisingly-ridden De Benno next time, that one landing a valuable prize soon after. His last effort over this course-and-distance is easily forgiven as he made a bad mistake at the eighth and if his jumping holds up he should be involved.
Time-figures also play a part in analysing this beginners' chase with Bravissimo having achieved the most on clock in coming second to Castlegrace Paddy over course-and-distance last month. It is not unreasonable to have some doubts about his attitude with how he finished his race out at Punchestown on his penultimate run but one could also take positives from that effort as he travelled best against winners and seemed not to get home over twenty furlongs. This trip is more his thing though a short in-running lay may not be a bad idea.
Of the rest, Saturnas will need to jump much better than he did on chase debut and while he should improve for last time that form may not amount to much. I am also against De Plotting Shed; he is without a run 64 days which is hardly a positive given how often he raced last season and this trip is not ideal.
2018 P+L: -1.15 points
1.5 Point Back Veneer Of Charm @ [3.1] or bigger in the Fairyhouse 13:30
1 Point Back Doctor Phoenix @ [8.2] or bigger in the Fairyhouse 14:35
1 Point Place Back Doctor Phoenix @ [2.8] or bigger in the Fairyhouse 14:35
1 Point Back Bravissimo @ [6.8] or bigger in the Fairyhouse 15:05
1 Point Place Back Bravissimo @ [1.9] or bigger in the Fairyhouse 15:05