Although it’s now a massive meeting in its own right, this weekend’s Dublin Racing Festival provides what may be the most important clues yet for Cheltenham. For betting purposes though it looks like Sunday is the best of the two days and we have a couple of great value selections then.
Before that there is top class jumping action in England on Saturday along with a good flat meeting at Lingfield where once again we’re hoping to get an odds-on shot beaten, though we start at Sandown with a solid looking bet in the Grade 1 Novices’ Chase.
Saturday 2nd February 2019Embed from Getty Images
2.25 Sandown (Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase – Grade 1) – VINNDICATION
Realistically there are only three in this and in such a situation value is usually rare, but given the presence of Lostintranslation who many fancy to go well it seems the price on our horse is holding up quite well.
Vinndication is unbeaten in his six runs, two over fences, and has to come a cropper at some stage but I do not believe it will be this weekend. Having won easily at Carlisle, Kim Bailey’s 6yo stayed on well to score at Ascot in better company in December and I feel that performance has been underrated slightly.
Runner-up Jerrysback was a beaten favourite next time but in truth Vinndication had another gear to get into and we should see that this time at the expense of the aforementioned Lostintranslation and Defi Du Seuil.
2.55 Lingfield (Winter Derby Trial Stakes – Listed Race) – COURT HOUSE
Although this is a trial it’s a strong enough race on its own, but at the prices it could be worth taking a chance on the apparent Gosden second string rather than the odds-on jolly Wissahickon.
Frankie Dettori is at Lingfield for this and he has chosen the Cambridgeshire winner, the truth is though that he couldn’t really not choose the 4yo gelding who’s now won six of his 8 races but while his form is rock solid and he is obviously the main danger I’d say our horse has been slightly underestimated.
Wissahickon got an official rating of 117 after winning at Newmarket and followed up nicely in a course and distance Listed race, but winners of the Cambridgeshire often find that they peak in that race given that the herd drags them along and in a quieter race they simply can’t go at that pace or reach that level.
Court House has won two from two at Lingfield and hasn’t shown us his best quite yet unlike his stable mate. Rab Havlin is an excellent jockey and has a good rapport with this chap who I think is of a very similar level of ability to the favourite but gets a 3lb pull in this race, potentially making all the difference.
3.00 Sandown (Handicap Hurdle – Grade 3) – CASKO D’AIRY
Having whittled this race down to those who truly look as though they want this trip in soft ground, the value in the race looks like solid contender Casko D’Airy from the bottom of the weights for Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden.
Having made an inauspicious start to his career over hurdles, he sprung to life at Ascot when scoring easily at 16/1 in similar conditions to this and it seems that in starting from a low base he has much more improvement to come than most in this field.
True he’s gone up to a mark of 127 from 113, but that still doesn’t get close to reflecting what mark he could reach and so it appears he may have a few pounds in hand, more so than Ballymoy and Keeper Hill at the top of the handicap who look solid prospects for place money.
Sunday 3rd February 2019Embed from Getty Images
1.15 Leopardstown (Spring Juvenile Hurdle – Grade 1) – GARDENS OF BABYLON (each-way)
It’s always preferable on a day-to-day basis to just back your selections on the nose, but at the risk of looking like we’re chickening out somewhat here we only get to give you this information once a week and it would be awful if this was only just beaten at such a tasty price!
Joseph O’Brien’s 4yo has had the two runs, more than the two market principals and so many think that there’s more improvement to come from them rather than him. The level he got to a Fairyhouse though when running second is some way above Sir Eric and Tiger Tap Tap reached when they ran 1-2 here in a maiden hurdle and given that there were 28 runners that day, they’ll have had to put in a good enough shift and won’t go on as much as people think.
If anything Coeur Sublime, another at an attractive price, could be the one to chase the selection home if all goes well but at prices of around 10/1 at the time of writing and with ¼ the odds available on the first three, ours looks like a rock solid each-way shout.
3.35 Leopardstown (Irish Gold Cup – Grade 1) – BELLSHILL
Noel Meade’s Road To Respect is the likely favourite here after winning the Christmas Chase last year, running fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and starting this campaign with an easy success in Grade 1 company.
The fact is though that on a look at his overall profile we know what level he’s at and there probably isn’t any more for him to show us in terms of improvement, especially on this ground which is probably a little quicker than ideal.
The chances are then that we should concentrate on Willie Mullins’ two runners and, while we have successfully gone for a Mullins second-string before, Ruby Walsh has probably had too much stick in recent times and remains a great rider who knows how to pick the right one.
With that in mind we side with him and Bellshill over Al Boum Photo, the 9yo being the type to get much, much better as the season goes on so rather than judging him on his 9-length fourth to Kemboy it’s possible a repeat of his Punchestown Gold Cup win, bearing in mind he could even better that, would be enough to take this prize.