Irish Racing: Jumps Take Centre Stage4 min read
It might all seem to be about Longchamp this weekend, but with graded races over jumps on Saturday and Sunday, the National Hunt season proper is waiting in the wings to take over.14:30 Connolly’s Red Mills Irish European Breeders Fund Auction Maiden Hurdle 2m 4f
Much as I like MacGiloney, this race looks at the mercy of Felix Desjy, who looked a big talent in bumpers last year, winning twice, and doing well to finish sixth at the Cheltenham Festival after pulling like a train in the early stages. It goes without saying that he will need to settle better to fulfil his potential over hurdles, but the obstacles themselves can help free-going horses, and he can afford to do plenty wrong and still win this. In the medium term, I would like to see him over fences sooner rather than later – he’s bred for the big ‘uns, and fences would help to curb his tendency to overrace.
When Gordon is hot, he tends to be red-hot, and he can enhance his tally courtesy of Rightdownthemiddle, who bolted up in a handicap hurdle at Perth in July, and was placed off a mark 16lb higher than this over fences last time. His hurdles mark is clearly ripe for exploitation, and he is expected to get back to winning ways. If the rain had arrived, and who knows what the weather will do, I would have been keen on Randalls Ur Poet, and he remains one to be interested in when the winter kicks in, his best form having come on deep ground.
A Toi Phil could easily give Gordon Elliott another winner on what promises to be a good day for the handler, but preference here is for the top-class Balko des Flos, who proved his worth when winning the Ryanair at Cheltenham in March. He is better judged on that run that his disappointing effort at Aintree next time, and his proven ability to go well fresh swings the verdict very firmly in his favour.
Balko des Flos