DOWN ROYAL – 5 Feburary
Going: SOFT (Heavy in Places) Forecast: Rain/windy Afternoon
1.15 St. Patrick´s Punter Pack Handicap Chase – 3m
A good handicap to start the proceedings for the first meeting of 2014. The one to watch for here is Witness of Fashion who is looking to make a quick follow up on recent success at Fairyhouse less than a week ago. Winning in good fashion by 4 ½ lengths. Although a step up in trip, this shouldn’t faze this pretender as he easily dismissed of Gordon Elliott’s 3/1F Hold ‘em Cowboy who finished a full 19L behind in third who re-emerges for another chance today. The real danger can be seen in the form of Embracing Change who looks a very decent prospect and has excellent recent form especially in a tough fought contest at Punchestown back in January following on from successive wins at P2P level. He needs to improve on that to figure here. He seems to being showing enough progression to be competitive off a weight of 10-8 but with Witness of Fashion in receipt of 10lb this is where the value lies. He seems to enjoy the distance and soft ground so conditions should be ideal and shows plenty to imagine the step to 3m will be within his reach. With Conor Maxwell on board he should be shaped with plenty of promise to complete the task in hand.
Selection Witness of fashion
Danger Embracing Change
Probable SP 7/2 Hold Em Cowboy, 5/1 Dazzlers Day, 6/1 In Great Form, Blissful Moment, 7/1 Embracing Change, 8/1 Drawn N Drank, Witness Of Fashion, 10/1 Mister Philson, 12/1 More Madness, 14/1 Zekarya, Cherryantor, 25/1 Fergiethelegend
2.15 Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase – 2m
The John Joseph Hanlon trained Refuse A Name grabs the attention in this 2m chase and with recent success over longer distance at Punchestown on Heavy ground back in January, he can be forgiven his last run out when finishing 4th four days ago, in the hope that a quick fire return to the track can help improve his chances as a major contender. Take A Shot has all the credentials but a long absence from the course makes me decide against him, but if he can rediscover the form which saw him win here back in Dec ’12 then he can be thereabouts and looks each-way material. With a slight drop in weight this can make him more competitive. Elizabeth Doyle’s 10yr old Reality Dose looks the one to watch out for, which can be backed up with a competitive rating of 96 and in receipt of 7lb from Refused A Name and with a win over this distance by 2 ½ lengths at Naas over heavy ground should demonstrate he has more to come and should be pushing come the final furlongs.
Selection Refused a Name
Danger Reality Dose
Probable SP 3/1 Reality Dose, 9/2 Take A Shot, 5/1 El Mondo, 6/1 Mark Me Up, 13/2 Keep On Track, 7/1 Hidden Present, 10/1 Popaflora, 14/1 Castle Anshan, 25/1 Robyn Rua.
3.55 Weatherbys Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide Novice Handicap Hurdle – 2m
After a few stand out withdrawals in the form of Getoutwhenyoucan and Arzembouy Premier I feel this has been left a more open contest. With none of the runners yet to record success over hurdles i feel this cycle can be broken by the Andrew Martin trained 4yr old Cassells Rock and with the booking of new Gigginstown retained rider Bryan Cooper, only further enhances the intent from this yard to get off the mark. With an OR of 110 and weighted 10-4 for this contest can only work in his favour to make him competitive against top rated Roman General who has to concede over a stone to his rival. Although Roman General has been showing great progress in his last few outings with placings of 232. Especially in his last time out second, at the Leopardstown festival, when only a few lengths back to dual festival winner Sealight over similar conditions, this should set him up nicely to record a victory. Brain Hamilton’s Honey bach is the only other consideration but he will have to recapture his form from May ’12 when winning a bumper here over the same distance but this may prove too tough a task.
Selection Cassells Rock
Danger Roman general
Probable SP 9/4 Roman General, 7/2 Divine Rhapsody, 5/1 The Engineer, 6/1 Honey Bach, 7/1 Cassells Rock, 8/1 Travis McGee, 10/1 Isle View.