Edene to excel with ground in her favour
The rain has arrived. Finally we have some heavy ground, and with more showers predicted for Sunday, I'm keen to back Gordon Elliott's Edene D'arc for the Grade 3 Mares' Novice Hurdle at 14:35. If she was going to win at double figures it wouldn't be quite the shock of the mares' event at Cheltenham with that 50/1 and 66/1 one-two. Betfair SPs that day on the first and the second were 96.62 and 146.19!
The softer the better for Elliott's mare, who clearly relishes a bit of mud flying around her ears. She won a Maiden Hurdle at Gowran Park last time by just over three lengths, and she shaped like a stayer over the 2m there. The step up in trip is a big one to 2m6f, but I like the way she found again in that Gowran win after kicking the last hurdle.
She's a half-sister to Kinloch Brae winner Ball D'Arc - who acted in heavy too. It looks an open race, and with her odds, she could be worth playing in the 4 Places market on the Exchange.
Turf can be the Diamond for Elliott at a price
I usually swerve the big field Maiden Hurdle races, but the 15:10 gets an inclusion this weekend as I am happy to give another chance to Diamond Turf.
The "chaser-in-the-making" line could be trotted out, but I'll refrain. However, he's a big gross horse that looked a bit clumsy in terms of his jumping at Down Royal. He was disappointing at Navan when last seen back in December, but he's been off since then with a break of 91 days. His trainer Gordon Elliott mentioned the form of his previous race has worked out well, and he looks a horse clearly capable of better.
Last year's Champion Bumper runner-up Carefully Selected is the 4/5 Sportsbook favourite, and you certainly don't need me tipping up something at that price, but the odds on Diamond Turf have pulled me in. The switch to really deep ground could be a plus as he won his bumper on heavy last term.
Best bet of the day runs over hurdles
One of the big field handicap hurdles on Sunday, and my sole bet here is the likeable Wee Small Hours in the 15:40.
In a bit of a mixed bag of a race, the case with backing this horse is simple; he stays further and he acts on heavy. In fact his record with "heavy" in the going description is pretty solid at 333413023.
He has been racing mostly on quicker ground this season, so he'll finally have his surface for today. Last time he ran over 2m4f at Fairyhouse and hinted at a big return to form in that run. He tried to make the pace but didn't quite have the speed that one or two of his nippier rivals had - but he still performed with credit.
Essentially he's a thorough stayer over 3m, so I expect his regular jockey Danny Hand (who also claims 7lb) to press on with front-running tactics that he has used before. He looks one of my bets of the day at around 8.07/1.
Mall Dini still after that elusive chasing victory
So often a Cheltenham Festival regular - we have a chance to see Mall Dini in action on Sunday over the fences at Limerick. It's somewhat bizarre to think this former Pertemps winner is a 0-13 horse in his chasing career. In the context of his back-class and rating of 148, his price of 10/11 on the Sportsbook is not a bad one, especially as you would fancy your chances against the second favourite Dakota Moirette. He's 20lb inferior.
Mall Dini not only has that Pertemps win, but also a runner-up spot in the Kim Muir. Can he make it 14th time lucky?
Behavior to be much the best at Wexford
This looks one of the more competitive handicap hurdles for the afternoon, and the bet here is Oliver McKiernan's lightly-raced runner Best Behavior.
We are probably taking a bit of a chance with the fact he hasn't been since April 2018, but on paper it looks as though he simply hasn't had has ground. He landed a Maiden Hurdle last term at Navan on heavy, so he finally has a bit of soft to deal with. The lack of a run is a worry, but the price of around 11.010/1 offsets that a little and he is worth the risk.
He's been racing against much better horses in a handful of runs so far - including the likes of Uradel, Jetez and Tower Bridge.
Best Behavior looks as though he'll stay 3m, so he'll be fine at today's intermediate trip of 2m5f. This is certainly an easier race for his second handicap run than a fairly hot affair last spring. He could be a little better than a 123-rated hurdler.
Brassil to wrap up a good week with a Wexford winner
Time for some veteran action with the 16:00, and it's easy to see why Vent De La Cote is around the 4.03/1 mark for this judged on an easy victory when last seen over hurdles.
He fairly scooted in with that success, with a fair distance back to the third at Listowel. That was last September in testing conditions, so at least he is a fresh horse from 185 days off. He could be another who simply has just been waiting for soft conditions that he likes.
The veteran runs for trainer Martin Brassil and Mark Walsh, who teamed up for a Cheltenham Festival success earlier this week, and he could chalk off a winner at Wexford now the handicapper in Ireland has lowered him 5lb from his previous run over fences in the JP McManus colours.
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