BETDAQ 7.0 HONEYSUCKLE FOR CHELTENHAM CHAMPION HURDLE: Saturday’s Irish Champion Hurdle favourite with Ladbrokes and Corals, Honeysuckle, is only 7.0 to follow up and become Cheltenham champion, too. It’s the second part of Daqman’s race-by-race analysis of the weekend Dublin Racing Festival.
GOLDEN 4.5 NAP HOPES AND 100 POINTS FROM DAQ MULTIPLES: On the daily stage, Daqman steps up his stakes and goes for at least a ton-up return from Daq Multiples doubles and a treble, napping at around 4.5 on the BETDAQ exchange in the Golden Miller Handicap Hurdle at Leicester today, and adding two handicaps at Kempton.
A CHELTENHAM TASTE OF HONEY
Champion all the way? Unbeaten Honeysuckle (pictured) could take the high jump at Cheltenham, rather than stay in the mares’ division. She may bid for a Champion Hurdle double, starting with the Irish version at Leopardstown on Saturday.
Her owner, Kenny Alexander, chief executive of GVC Holdings, reckons she will deserve a crack at the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle if she wins or goes close at the Dublin Racing Festival.
The man who has guided Ladbrokes Coral to near £680m earnings in 2019 had his sights for Honeysuckle at a lower level, the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle: ‘Just to win at Cheltenham; I’d love that.’
But, as confidence grows, he now says of his ‘dream come true’ that she’s the only horse he may ever own who is good enough to run in a Champion Hurdle and, with the Cheltenham picture unclear, she may well earn a crack at the very top.
It’s judgement day at Leopardstown for six-in-succession Honeysuckle, trained by Henry de Bromhead. She won the Hattons Grace over 2m 4f, gets a 7lb mares allowance and is 11-8 favourite for Saturday with Ladbrokes and Corals.
She was only 7.0 in the BETDAQ Sportsbook already for the Cheltenham championship this morning and is Daqman’s Fortune Cookie for the race. I hope we haven’t put the mockers on her!
TODAY: After yesterday’s stats on the Saturday card at Leopardstown, Daqman now analyses each Sunday race, checking particularly on how the winners then fared at Cheltenham.
12.55 Leopardstown, Sunday (mares handicap hurdle, 2m 2f Grade B)
Top trainer: Liam Cusack 3.
Winners’ Cheltenham score: 0-10; places 0-10.
Age: Seven 3, eight 3. Weight: 8-9 carried 10st 11lb or less. Favourites: 3-10
1.25 Leopardstown, Sunday (4-y-o juvenile hurdle, 2m)
Top trainer: Willie Mullins 3, Dermot Weld 2.
Winners’ Cheltenham score: 1-10; places 7-10 (winner, four seconds, two thirds in the Triumph Hurdle)
⭕ 2013 Our Conor (D T Hughes) won Triumph Hurdle 4-1
1.55 Leopardstown, Sunday (2m novice hurdle, Grade 1)
Top trainer: Willie Mullins 6.
Winners’ Cheltenham score: 4-10; places 7-10 (3rd Supreme Novice Hurdle, 3rd, 4th Ballymore)
⭕ 2013 Champagne Fever (W Mullins) won Supreme Novice Hurdle 2-1 favourite
⭕ 2014 Vautour (W Mullins) won Supreme Novice Hurdle; 7-4
⭕ 2018 Samcro (G Elliott) won Ballymore Novice Hurdle; 4-6 favourite
⭕ 2019 Klassical Dream (W Mullins) won Supreme Novice Hurdle 6-1
Age: six 5, five 4. Favourites: 4
2.30 Leopardstown, Sunday (3m handicap hurdle, Grade B)
Top trainer: none with more than one winner.
Winners’ Cheltenham score: 0-5; places 1-5 (2nd in the Martin Pipe)
Ages: all different. Weight: 4-5 10st 12lb or less. Clear favourites 2-5
3.00 Leopardstown, Sunday (2m 5f novice chase, Grade 1)
Top trainer: Willie Mullins 3, Noel Meade 2.
Winners’ Cheltenham score: 1-10; places 5-10 (winner, 2nd and 4th RSA Chase, 2nd and 3rd Golden Miller)
⭕ 2011 Bostons Angel (Jessica Harrington) won RSA Chase 16-1
Age: seven 6, eight 3. Clear favourite 4.
3.30 Leopardstown, Sunday (Irish Gold Cup)
Top trainer: Willie Mullins 4, John Kiely 2.
Winners’ Cheltenham score: 1-10; places 3-10 (winner, 2nd and 4th Cheltenham Gold Cup)
⭕ 2017 Sizing John (Jessica Harrington) won Cheltenham Gold Cup 7-1
Age: Nine 4; seven 3; eight 2. Favourite 2
WHY HURDLES TEMPT ARDMAYLE
3.15 Leicester (Golden Miller Handicap Hurdle) A mixed age range from 5 to 12 often makes things difficult. It’s usually advisable to go for the young improver but, on today’s heavy ground, a hardy old plodder can win these dour battles.
This one gives off mixed vibes: both young horses, Miah Grace and Rootless Tree, like heavy ground. And the old plodders really are old; Top Gamble and CD winner Applesandpierres, are veterans of 12, possibly too old.
Jedd O’Keeffe (Miah Grace) and Olly Murphy are the trainers in form. Miah Grace is unexposed and on the upgrade but has been given a mark of 125, which makes her top weight.
Murphy’s Swaffham Bulbeck has won only in maiden company, hasn’t been on a racecourse since July and has a static rating.
Rootless Tree was a CD winner here at Leicester on heavy in December but pulled up in his first handicap.
I settled for Ardmayle (BETDAQ 4.5), a heavy ground hurdles winner who has won a class 3 chase at Sandown, should be fit from three autumn runs and is back hurdling 10lb below his chase mark. Record 2-2 on this track, and the trainer has a 50% strike rate in handicap hurdles here.
KEMPTON WISDOM ABOUT NORMAN
5.45 Kempton Which horse do you think this quote is about? ‘Could be a Liverpool horse; we took him to Cheltenham but he couldn’t handle it?’ A hurdler no doubt. One you’d expect to see having a run, before a big race at one of the Spring jumps festivals.
In fact, Normal Norman (BETDAQ 4.9) has been seen in Graded races – bumper and hurdle – at both Cheltenham (pulled up) and Aintree (pulled up), and for a Normal horse has the most abnormal CV.
Since then he’s raced on the Flat over 7f, 1m twice, 1m 2f, and 2m with, sandwiched among them, a class-2 hurdle at Musselburgh (pulled up)! Whatever next you might ask: and the answer may be that Norman has finally put his foot (hoof) down.
His sole success in among those six multifarious races was at Kempton over today’s CD at today’s level and his form on the track is an improving 321. Maybe he’s trying to tell trainer John Ryan: ‘Stop messing me about.. Take me back to Kempton!’ I took 4.9 on BETDAQ.
Trevithick has been dropped two grades in class but he’s found a home at Newcastle where he’s paid his dues so many times he has a mortgage on the place!
Trevithick has been there for 10 of his last 16 starts for two wins, four seconds and a third. He rang the changes twice last year, going to Ayr (turf), where he was last of six, and Chelmsford (polytrack), eighth of nine.
These are all bad horses, of course, and Kempton may be third time lucky and just suit his style, though his ‘led at a steady pace’ on the last day is hardly encouraging.
James Fanshawe is acey-deucy at the moment, with his runners either first or second, and cheekpieces first time could get Merchant Of Venice over the line.
The cheekpieces and his pound better off may help him overturn the two short-heads and a nose by which Rangali Island beat him at Chelmsford.
They rarely put two wins together at this level and, after Rangali Island scored here at Kempton in November, he flopped – ninth of 10 – over the same CD a month later.
Be warned to keep your Daq up and watch King’s Slipper in the market. He’s won on two out of three occasions when he’s been favourite, one of them over today’s CD at Kempton but I’d be worried that Clive Cox is so out of form.
Three of his last five runners have finished 11/11, then 12/14 and, most recently, 11/11. Two favourites in among them were both third in small fields, missing strike badly.
Masham Star has trailed in last in all four starts since July, and finished lame on the last day, at Wolverhampton in December. He’s dropped 10lb før those four starts so can’t be written off entirely.
HOLLIE SET TO OUTFOX THE FIELD
6.45 Kempton Tipperary Jack’s withdrawal has me switching to Ginger Fox (BETDAQ 5.0), in the frame in three successive races since switching to David Loughnane, including a win and third on the course.
What’s different today is that Hollie Doyle takes the mount, currently striking at 27% and with two winners from five rides – all in the first four – at the last Kempton meeting.
3.15 Leicester (win 20)
BET 5.75pts win (nap) ARDMAYLE
5.45 Kempton (win 20)
BET 5pts win NORMAL NORMAN
6.45 Kempton (win 20)
BET 5pts win GINGER FOX
3 x 1pt win doubles and a 1pt win treble
ARDMAYLE 3.15 Leicester
NORMAL NORMAN 5.45 Kempton
GINGER FOX 6.45 Kempton
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