The Irish racing broadcaster runs through his tips for this weekend's racing in Ireland, including Sunday's Pertemps Qualifier.
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The jump season is really starting to heat up over here in Ireland and we have a good weekend of racing on our hands.
There are going to be plenty of odds-on shots that will be hard to oppose, and I won’t be taking many of them on as the majority should be getting their heads in front, including Gaelic Warrior and State Man for Willie Mullins on Saturday.
Last weekend we saw Burdett Road set the bar for the juveniles with his success at Cheltenham, but the Irish are going to start unleashing some of their prospects and we could see a few in the opener at Punchestown on Saturday.
I do like the look of DERRY LAD SP in the 15:08 at Punchestown. He’s got plenty to do as far as official ratings go, but he did show enough minor promise on his few hurdle starts to date and was a good winner of a handicap on the flat over at Hamilton in the Spring. He’s got a mark of 99 and I think he’ll progress to having a higher mark than that, and could run a better race than expected, albeit in what would have to be a career best. It’s not ideal that he fell last time, but that will have brought him on from a fitness point of view.
HALKA DU TABERT (14:20 Cork) is a mare who I think will thrive this season and likely take towards the top ranks of the mares’ novice chase division. She came from the point-to-point scene with a big reputation and won her first two races for Gordon [Elliott] in great style, and then ran two credible races in defeat at Fairyhouse and at Cheltenham. I’m inclined to put a line through her last run of the season as she may have just been over the top by then. She’s a very talented mare and should take all of the beating on her first over fences.
LUCKY MAX (14:50 Cork) achieved a fair level over hurdles and can make a similar mark over fences, judged on his recent run over the larger obstacles at Down Royal earlier this month. He shaped like he’d appreciate a step up in trip, so I see no issues with him staying and I think his opening mark of 133 is fair. His course record at Cork is outstanding – he’s won three of his four starts here and wasn’t beaten far on the other.
STUZZIKINI (15:00 Punchestown) has been an incredibly consistent sort for Gordon Elliott. He’s surprised me with his progression, and you can’t help but be impressed with the way he sluiced up at Clonmel last time over 3 miles. I’m not sure this is the strongest Pertemps Qualifier I’ve seen, so he should have a great chance if he’s in the same vein of form.