Liverpool FC: Christmas Crack Me Up Challenge
Danse Away has been on my radar for some time, and he’s worth forgiving his latest effort when stepped up to three miles, his stamina seemingly not up to it having shaped well at this trip on his penultimate start. He is very well treated on the impression he made in both point to points and in bumpers last season. The excellent Danny Mullins takes over from David Splaine and Tom Nagle’s gelding can finally fulfil early promise before hopefully going on to better things when we see some sunshine.
Few mares have impressed me more this season than Shattered Love, and La Bella Vida did very well indeed to get close to Gordon Elliott’s star in a Grade 3 event at Cork in December. She couldn’t lay a glove on the impressive winner there, but even a conservative view of the form would suggest she is fairly handicapped on a mark of just 121, and Liz Doyle’s daughter of Westerner will take some beating if she’s primed for this outing after a break. Jimmy Two Times won last time out, and while his form over fences suggests he’s on a stiff enough mark, he’s owned by a shrewd operator in the shape of “young” Sean Graham, and late support in the market should be noted. Toon River is looking for a remarkable third win in this race, but the 13-year-old looks a shadow of his former self and is hard to fancy on recent evidence.
A year ago, Pairofbrowneyes was heading to Cheltenham to contest the novices’ handicap chase off a mark of 140, and now he makes his debut for Willie Mullins off 3lb lower. He’s definitely of interest off his mark, and he’s a determined sort when on his game, but his stamina for three miles must be taken on trust, with two-and-a-half looking his limit for his previous stable, and he is fully effective at the mimimum trip, as he showed when runner-up at Cheltenham last season.
Preference, in the expectation that Pairofbrowneyes is punted despite stamina concerns, is for Scoir Mear, who also ran at last year’s Cheltenham Festival – in fact, he was the biggest eyecatcher in the handicaps all week, flying up the run-in to finish fifth in the Coral Cup behind Supasundae. He’s disappointed since, but expectations over fences have been low, and he strikes me as the type to come alive when the cash arrives. His runs over fences have come over inadequate trips, but he showed improved form when runner-up here last time over two miles, and the way he shaped at Cheltenham 12 months ago suggests a step up to three miles will be the making of him. Get on early.
Danse Away SP
La Bella Vida (NB) SP
Scoir Mear (Nap) SP