Irish Eyes: Walsh to Spring up
Irish Eyes previews today's stellar card at Leopardstown with Ruby Walsh's Bapaume getting the Nap vote in the Spring Juvenile.
Bapaume and jockey Ruby Walsh can win again today
Irish Eyes Selections
Nap: Bapaume, 2.30 Leopardstown. 11/4 (general)
The Irish Gold Cup card at Leopardstown features four Grade 1 races but the two mile handicap hurdle often throws up a good horse as well.
Previous winners include subsequent Galway Hurdle winner Farmer Brown, Grade 2 winner See U Bob, Pierse Hurdle winner Studmaster whilst Tennis Cap went on to finish second in the County Hurdle and last year's winner was only beaten two lengths when fourth in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham.
Today's top weight, Jeannot de Nonant, is a bit of an unknown quantity in this given he is making his Irish debut but he did finish third in a Listed Handicap in France as a 3yo prior to winning one as a 4yo, so he is obviously pretty talented.
It could be argued that connections may have another day in mind for him and that his presence in today's race may owe more to compressing the weights for his stablemate Canelie (albeit they run in different ownership) than anything else but we won't know for certain until he runs.
That brings us to the current favourite Canelie and to be honest, it's difficult to see why she warrants favouritism in this contest. Granted, she won four consecutive bumpers in France but she has failed to win in three hurdle starts in Ireland and whilst improvement may be forthcoming in her first handicap start, it's nevertheless a big enough ask today.
As she runs in the JP McManus South Liberties colours, the fact she is the choice of his retained jockey doesn't necessarily mean she is the favoured choice of his three runners in the race.
Therefore it probably safer to stick with what we do know and whilst Lagostovegas is reasonably exposed she looks a very reliable yardstick in this race and she should prove a tough nut to crack.
In her first three starts as a juvenile hurdler she finished second to horses that proceeded to win at Grade 2 and Grade 1 level before coming third behind the subsequent winner of the Triumph Hurdle, Ivanovich Gorbatov, and Grade 2 winner Let's Dance.
She fully deserved to win her fourth start in impressive manner. A couple of disappointing hurdle starts were following by an impressive front-running victory here at Leopardstown on the Flat carrying top weight of 10 stone. Her two most recent hurdle runs, off 119 and 120, suggest she should go close here today – a couple of better jumps and she would have won last time out – and a despite a 4lb rise prices around 6/1 look very fair.
Although it's a competitive race it's difficult to look past Bapaume as he bids to give Willie Mullins a third consecutive win in the Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle.
Of the other runners in the field, only Mega Fortune has as much hurdling experience as Bapaume but the latter has twice proven too strong for Elliott's charge and if he is to upset Mullins, he is more likely to do so with the unexposed Dinaria Des Obeaux, a 29-length maiden hurdle winner who gets the 7lb mares allowance.
However Grade 2 course and distance winner Bapaume gets the vote today at the current 3/1 looks good value.
The fourth race sees Mullins saddle six of the ten runners. Many are unexposed, with Bacardys the most likely to make the step up today, but Saturnas looks the one to beat.
In the fifth race, Ruby Walsh rides Bellshill with Barry Geragthy on board Bleu Et Rouge as the owners retained jockey and between the two of them, Willie Mullins has an excellent chance of landing his seventh Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase in just ten years.
Both have won Grade 1 races over hurdles but Bellshill has been much more impressive over fences winning both his starts easily without seemingly putting a foot wrong (it was difficult to tell for sure in the Gowran fog first time out).
Bleu Et Rouge was good when winning on debut at this track but blumdered and unseated his rider on his second start. Given he also fell over hurdles at Cheltenham last season it might be best to stick with Bellshill for now for all that he is plenty short enough at 5/4.
As a son of Midnight Legend, the step up to today's three mile trip is what Sizing John was bred for but, despite this being a very open renewal, Carlingford Lough remains the horse to beat as he chases a third successive win in this contest.
Two trips to Prestbury Park has proven he's not up to winning a Cheltenham Gold Cup. He is not even entered this year so consequently it is reasonable to expect he has been trained to peak for this race once again by a man who is a master at producing a horse to its prime for the big day and the 5/1 with Skybet looks fair.
On The Fringe has twice won the Foxhunters Chase at Cheltenham and he also won today's Hunter Chase way back in 2011.
However, the fact that he has been beaten in this race four times since, twice as favourite, suggests whilst he is trying his best, Cheltenham is very much his 'Gold Cup' as opposed to this race, so the race-fit Foxrock has to get the vote today.
He won the Leopardstown Chase here two years ago and indeed he ran second and fourth behind the aforementioned Carlingford Lough in the last two running's of the Irish Gold Cup on this day.
He won his Hunters Chase by nine lengths at Down Royal over Christmas and took the best Hunters Chase run this season at Thurles last time out. Named after the local area, the Ted Walsh-trained 9yo still has a lot to offer and holds all the aces here.
Leave us a comment!
Share this story:
Subscribe to our Newsletter today to receive Free Horse Racing Tips.
Simply fill out the form below and wait for the Free Tips to land in your inbox.