DAQMAN NAPS 15-2 WINNER ON THE GOLD TRAIL: On a day when most of the star names defected, Daqman was on the one who mattered yesterday: Protektorat impressed in the Lancashire Chase with a Gold Cup performance, beating a strong though small field depleted by a below-par run from the current gold holder, A Plus Tard.
Saturday: Profit on the day 129.25
WON 15-2 PROTEKTORAT (FORTUNE COOKIE, nap)
STAY WITH THE QUALITY HORSES: It was too soft at Haydock, too firm at Ascot, and all too much for racegoers and punters! Paul Nichols, who slammed the feeble excuses, stayed on course – literally – and picked up four prizes, including a walkover. There may be better Cheltenham pointers from quality runners in Ireland today.
DEVILS GIFTS THIS TO CROONER
⭕ 1.30 Punchestown (Florida Pearl Novice Chase) This Grade-2 has recently thrown up two who have achieved 147-148 level, Batleoverdoyen (2019) and Vanillier (2021).
Boyne Hurdle winner Thedevilscoachman, who got off the mark at Galway over fences at the end of October, backed like a good thing, is out because the ground today was not soft enough for trainer Noel Meade’s liking.
Meade now saddles the in-form Idas Boy but it would be unusual for an eight-year-old to stop the progress of a strong novice two years younger.
Gordon Elliott has won four years in the last six (all six-year-olds; only one of them favourite) and Minella Crooner, who starts out today over fences, broke his hurdles maiden here over 3m in January.
Betdaq Betting Exchange 2.73 Minella Crooner
STATE MAN GOING TO THE TOP
⭕ 2.05 Punchestown (Morgiana Hurdle) Willie Mullins, who has won this 10 times out of the last 11, runs three today and you can’t tell by the jockey which one might be best.
His five winners in the last six years of this €70,000-euro Grade 1 have been steered home by four different riders.
Sharjah, the winner in 2018 (Paul Townend) and 2021 (Patrick Mullins), goes for the treble today under Mullins, while Townend and State Man bid for a hat-trick, after winning together at Cheltenham in the County Hurdle and then in the Punchestown Champion Novice.
Danny Mullins and Saldier, who won the Morgiana in 2019 (Sharjah only fourth), are together again.
Gordon Elliott with Abracadabras pipped the odds-on Mullins favourite, Saint Roi, by a neck in 2020. He tries to do the trick again with Teahupoo.
Teahupoo completed a Graded hat-trick as the Red Mills Trial winner at Gowran on heavy in February, but was well beaten in both the Cheltenham and Punchestown champion hurdles.
Though there’s just a 4lb spread in the ratings (162 Sharjah, 161 Saldier, 159 State Man, 158 Teahupoo) was reckoned a good thing this morning: 10 could get you seven on BETDAQ this morning.
HARRY ANOTHER ONE FOR FRY
⭕ 2.25 Exeter A limited handicap chase for novices where, like Punchestown, easy ground could be turned soft by forecast showers.
Black Gerry is bred for the jumping game from the stable that yesterday saddled Botox Has and Goshen.
Dubrovnik Harry, placed in the big–field EBF Final at the Cheltenham Festival, is also from a yard doing well. Harry Fry won at Ascot with Boothill yesterday.
Another Ascot winner was Your Darling, whose Ben Pauling stable starts out Bowtogreatness over fences. Dual hurdles winner on soft-heavy.
3.00 Exeter Harry Fry has the likely favourites in both feature races at Exeter, How’s The Cricket in this 3m chase and Forever Blessed in the 2m 2f+ hurdle.
Both are handicaps.
Fry reckons that How’s The Cricket, who scored on his first start over fences, should improve for the step up in trip today.
Faustinovick got off the mark first run back after the break but that was on a sound surface and he was 11 times placed without winning in 17 starts before that.
BETDAQ value 3.6 Dubrovnik Harry
HOLLY GOOD VALUE ON BETDAQ
⭕ 3.35 Exeter Forever Blessed, who won a class-2 juvenile at Sandown last December, tries to pick up another hurdle before going chasing but with a lot of weight for a four-year-old.
It’s first run back, as it is for most of these, but Holly, Norton Hill (cheekpieces added to tongue-tie) and Watergrange Jack have all raced within the last six weeks or so.
Holly won in a canter at Wincanton in December from a subsequent dual winner. Only weakened at the finish on her reappearance in a classy field at Chepstow.
Watergrange Jack was odds on, and beat nothing well, at Ffos Las in June. The going was good, as it was when he won his bumper.
The one they all have to beat is Hartur d’Oudairies, highly regarded Warwick winner who comes back after a minor injury when beaten favourite at Cheltenham at the end of last year.
BETDAQ value 3.6 Hartur d’Oudairies, 9.8 Holly
1.30 Punchestown (win 10)
BET 5.75pts win MINELLA CROONER
2.05 Punchestown (supernap)
BET 20pts win STATE MAN
2.25 Exeter (win 10)
BET 4pts win DUBROVNIK HARRY
3.35 Exeter (win 12)
BET 4.5pts win HARTUR D’OUDAIRIES
BET 1.4pts win HOLLY
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