Huge graded action takes place over the jumps this weekend which will have massive implications for the Cheltenham Festival betting markets.
As for Britain’s failures at recent Festivals; my theory for what it’s worth is that it is not so much about a gulf in class, but simply fitness. Too many home-trained horses are kept off the track from December or January and are undercooked for Cheltenham, many going on to run well at Aintree.
Whatever happens at the Dublin Racing Festival this weekend, look out for winners and those running well who will subsequently be spot-on for March.
I found it hard to split two in the Scilly Isles at Sandown, Blue Lord looks good in the Irish Arkle without offering any value, while it is hard to see the short-priced Honeysuckle and Sir Gerhard failing.
Offering better value are the following selections:
Saturday 5th February 2022
1.50 Sandown (Contenders Hurdle – Listed Race) – GOSHEN
The infamous Goshen has had lots of chances, that’s true, but all things considered he was not far at all from his best last time out and we know how good he can be.
Goshen hung right at Lingfield in a three-runner race and his form can be upgraded. He gets to race right-handed this time which we know he loves and he may just have too much under Jamie Moore.
There should be plenty of money coming in for Song For Someone and Guard Your Dreams, but could we argue the pair of them are slightly regressing? A better alternative may be ten-year-old Global Citizen in receipt of 6lbs at a nice price for the forecast.
3.15 Leopardstown (Irish Gold Cup – Grade 1) – FRODON
Last year’s winner and one-time Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Kemboy may be all the rage for this race, and he does rate as a big danger to the selection for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend.
Frodon however is a solid choice. Despite an underwhelming run in the King George at Kempton we pretty much know what to expect from the popular ten-year-old.
Showing his wellbeing, Bryony Frost’s regular partner was as good as ever when landing a Grade 1 at Down Royal back in late October and he has been prepped to perfection by Paul Nicholls not for Cheltenham, but for this very event.
Frodon’s very best is a little better than Kemboy’s, but while Frodon looks as though he is holding his form, Kemboy for all his efforts is maybe just incapable of reaching his peak nowadays.
It’ll be fascinating to see how Gold Cup winner Minella Indo gets on. His stable was having a real golden period when he took the Cheltenham feature, with the rest of his form not showing up as well as the Nicholls horse despite his place in the market.
Janidil is value to get involved, as is Asterion Forlonge.
3.25 Lingfield (Winter Derby Trial – Listed Race) – AL ZARAQAAN
Richard Hannon’s Fancy Man has been the one for money having won around Lingfield over a mile-and-a-half on his all-weather debut back in September. He just about won that day and was unimpressive, though clearly many expect better now.
Much more solid you’d have to say is Al Zaraqaan. A four-time winner for William Haggas, Al Zaraqaan made an impressive stable debut for Archie Watson at Newcastle last month and has very much had the Winter Derby itself as his main target since.
4-4 on synthetic surfaces, he’s won at three different all-weather tracks, has the speed and has the class to reach a mark of at least 110 which would definitely make him good enough to take this under Hollie Doyle.
The improving King Of The South was next on the list ahead of the aforementioned Fancy Man and finally Living Legend.
4.00 Lingfield (Kachy Stakes – Listed Race) – LORD OF THE LODGE
Sticking with Lingfield on the Flat and another Listed race, this six-furlong sprint should be a competitive affair.
Good Effort has shown solid form at Deauville, Newcastle and at Lingfield on the all-weather, his most impressive performance in fact coming over this track and trip.
Spycatcher looks dangerous while Rohaan was superb on the turf last season, but the one I like best is Lord Of The Lodge who we successfully backed last time.
Karl Burke’s five-year-old is peaking now. He won for us at Kempton last time and is a course winner over seven furlongs too. His best overall performance was around here in a handicap, his most impressive speed figure was achieved at the same time and it seems the combo of this track and the six furlongs will bring out the very best in him.
Sunday 6th February 2022
1.50 Leopardstown (Dublin Chase – Grade 1) – GREANETEEN
Just the five runners for this top-class race, but in any case, it could come down to the two class acts in the event.
Chacun Pour Soi was third in the Champion Chase at the Festival last season before winning the equivalent at Punchestown.
Greaneteen, just like Frodon, has been prepped for this without Cheltenham in mind and could even better his impressive Tingle Creek victory from December.
Chacun Pour Soi has been far from infallible. His worst run overall in fact was last time out and he definitely looks vulnerable to the Nicholls horse now at odds-on.
Greaneteen is the value in the race then, with Captain Guinness and Dunvegan just a level or two below the big duo.
4.00 Kempton (Handicap) – LA TIHATY
At the time of writing only one bookmaker has odds listed for this race, putting up La Tihaty at 6/4 at that.
The hope though is that better value is available elsewhere come race time, and by my reckoning the improving Roger Varian runner is genuinely head and shoulders above this opposition and so is not in danger barring bad luck.
On an all-weather four-timer, La Tihaty is a course and distance winner, has more speed than the others, is already ahead of his handicap mark and in fact is getting better.