A Punter's Diary: Another bonanza for the bookies as shunters hit the buffers
WHAT a shocking day for the railway shunters yesterday. Carnage in the ring, silence only interrupted by the Securicor vans taking the bookies money away for counting. I had five seconds, including Whisper who was given the race and then had it snatched from him.
Debuchet ran well but the man of the moment Gordon Elliott beat us in that too. Still two days to reverse the luck, so here goes.
The JLT Novice Chase, which opens the card today, has long been the target for Yorkhill a top class novice hurdler last season, his wins included the Neptune when he beat Yanworth. He won two small field novice chases easily and faces his biggest test today.
He took part in the pre-Cheltenham schooling session last week after racing at Leopardstown and did not impress too many judges with his jumping.
Ruby Walsh didn't seem too worried and, in all honesty the opposition today isn't too taxing. I think Ruby will hunt him round early and let him get into a rhythm and press on up the straight and pick up the front running Disko.
A good friend cannot see him being beaten and expect to hear “Go on Ruby” shouted in a certain Blacks Road establishment at around 2.15pm.
The Pertemps final probably has more plots going on than the crime section of Waterstones.
I have been advised that Isleofhopendreams is thrown and had a stone in hand when winning at Punchestown last time. He will need every ounce of it.
Other Irish horses well fancied are Jury Duty and Presenting Percy whose trainer won this last year with the Davy Russell-ridden Mall Dini.
Davy takes the ride on Presenting Percy and has a great chance despite being given a rise in weight. Russell has a great record in handicaps here and I always put a few quid on his mounts in these races.
The home challenge is headed by the remarkable Tobefair who has won his last seven races for his Welsh owners. Shop around here as plenty of bookies will offer five places for an each-way return.
The two big races could easily fall to JP McManus with Uxizandre and Uknowhatimeanharry. Both of these were due to ridden by Barry Geraghty but he picked up a bad injury a couple of weeks ago and will be riding them from his armchair.
Uxizandre was AP McCoy's 31st and final festival winner when winning this two years ago and will be ridden by Mark Walsh in the Ryanair Chase (no relation to Ruby). He might have to give best to race sponsor Michael O Leary's Sub Lieutenant, who will love trip and ground and won really well at the Maze in November, beating Outlander, who is fancied for tomorrow's Gold Cup.
I think JP will win the other big race the Stayers' with Uknowhatimeanharry who has beaten most of his opposition already this season. He is another one of those horses who keeps winning without ever being too flashy. He has won his last eight races and should probably be ?odds-on today. He is ridden by supersub Noel Fehily who won on him at last year's Festival. Noel wouldn't hear of defeat when asked at last week's Irish News-Sean Graham's preview night in the Europa. Expect more shouts in Blacks Road.
Let's Dance is exactly what Willie Mullins's staff will be doing if she wins the mares' novice hurdle. The firm of solicitors who sponsored her last race at Leopardstown offered a €50,000 bonus for stable staff if the winner subsequently won at the Festival. The trip may be a bit on the short side but she usually makes the running and can run the sting out of the opposition. This race is on the new course which has a much stiffer finish than the old course which was used on Tuesday and yesterday.
There are only two hurdles in the last seven furlongs and that tends to suit front runners.
The potent combination of Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell team up in the 4.10 race with the long title. Diamond King won last year's Coral Cup for them and bids to put another handicap notch on their respective CVs. This has been well backed and I would suggest taking the morning price as he will almost surely go off a well-backed favourite at around 7/2 or thereabouts.
Thought for the day: Given the way they have been running this week, would it be a big surprise if Willie Mullins pulled a few of his horses out today and tomorrow and can the run on Djakadam continue?