Irish Eyes: Forgotten City
Our popular Irish Eyes column has three selections for today's top quality card from Leopardstown.
Tudor City (l) is selected at a big price
The feature €100,000 Handicap Hurdle at Leopardstown is every bit as competitive as one would expect and there are numerous horses that have plenty of things going for them.
Heartbreak City is the obvious class horse in the race and as if he didn't look well handicapped already, Tony Martin sticks with Donagh Myler who rode him to his last hurdle victory and therefore he claims a further 3lbs.
That leaves the Melbourne Cup runner-up with a mere 10 stone on his back but he is priced accordingly and 9/4 is plenty short in a 23-runner handicap around this track. It's important to remember however that one has to go back 12 years to find a winning favourite in this event whilst all bar one winner since returned at double-figure prices.
That's A Wrap makes plenty of appeal in the circumstances. Having been napped here at Christmas, it looked for a long time as if the money had gone by the wayside, given how the race panned out. In field of 20, he had been held up but on the bend, he found horses coming back on top of him forcing Ruby [Walsh] to switch him completely to the outside of the field. In doing so, it looked like he was asking the impossible from the horse but it transpired, as it so often does when Ruby is on board, to be a race-winning move and he made up ground hand over fist to prevail on the line.
However that may well have been a blessing in disguise as far as today's race is concerned given he has received an additional 7lbs for that half-length win whereas if he had got a clear run that day, he would surely have been a much more impressive winner and as a result, been hit with a bigger penalty. That's why he gets the selection today, as opposed to any sort of grá (Irish for love) for the horse. As discussed the last time we put him up, That's A Wrap looks a completely different proposition this season, as he has proven with his hat-trick of wins now. The only doubt about him really is the fact that in ten runs, he has never encountered ground as good as he will today (good, good to yielding in places) but as was the case last time out, he appears overpriced at 8/1 so he's worth taking a chance on.
Last year this column broke with convention and tipped up two in the same race and it looks the time to do the same again this year.
Whilst Tony Martin-trained horses dominate the front end of the betting, with Heartbreak City and Golden Spear currently filling the first two spots, one who has been slightly overlooked is Tudor City. Martin won the November Handicap on the flat here with Quick Jack but his favourite finished second that day (Martin also trained the fifth home) so his other runners should never be ignored.
He only has two Flat wins to his name thus far and has yet to break his hurdles duck but this novice has a couple of decent runs to his name and it shouldn't be forgotten that he went off favourite for the Lartigue in Listowel last September. The heavy ground may have been to blame for his no-show that day (pulled-up eventually) but he showed that to be all wrong when impressively winning on the Flat at Limerick the following month. He then went to Cheltenham and finished second in the same handicap that stablemate Quick Jack won in 2013 (before finishing third in this next time out) and he ran again here at Christmas finishing a decent second.
Given this is such a competitive handicap, the worry is the additional 4lbs received for that runner-up effort might prove the difference between getting involved and not today, but he is worth following at 20/1 each-way. The first time cheek pieces certainly don't do anything to dent confidence and perhaps a change in riding tactics might also be in the offing, which could be interesting.
At first glance, it may appear that the decision to run Clarcam in the €100,000 Handicap chase might have been made in an effort to compress the weights for the favourite, A Toi Phil, given they both run for the same owner/trainer combination (or indeed any of the other six Elliott-trained runners in the race!).
However, there are reasons to believe that Clarcam might just out run his 25/1 price. Like the favourite, he is only a 7yo and on a strict line thorough his regular adversary, Alelchi Inois, Clarcam may well still be on the improve. The Mullins-trained inmate beat Clarcam twice last July at the Galway festival, and again in November but Clarcam turned the tables when finishing third at Tramore last time out, with Alelchi Inois in fourth.
In the first of the aforementioned races, Clarcam ran an excellent fifth in the Galway Plate, beaten a little over 4 lengths, off 2lbs lower than today's mark. The 2m 6 ½f trip was a bridge too far that day, up that Ballybrit hill, but it was still a great run and the step back to 2m5f on this track should suit.
He has a Grade 1 chase win to his name at this track and an additional Grade 1 win on good to soft ground with his most recent two wins coming on good ground so that's the class, track and ground boxes ticked. Having put the excellent Lisa O'Neill up today, claiming 7lbs, connections have given Clarcam every chance of achieving his best possible placing today and at 25/1 he is worth an each-way nibble.