Katie Walsh: Emma Lavelle will have a good day on Saturday
The Betway ambassador previews a weekend where the National Hunt season comes to the boil, with important meetings at Cheltenham, Doncaster and Fairyhouse.
Fairyhouse this weekend
On Sunday, Willie saddles the super consistent Stormy Ireland at Naas (13:40) who should take all the beating under Paul Townend. She’s tough and game and will no doubt go from the front and put them all under pressure from the off.
Ross [O’Sullivan] saddles Bythesametoken at Fairyhouse on Sunday (15:10) and we’re expecting a nice run. He didn’t seem to stay 2m4f last time out but the drop back down to 2m should really suit him and he as a really nice, low racing weight on his back.
Allaho will be a short price in the opener at Fairyhouse (12:25) on Saturday, but he should be winning this in great style if they were thinking of getting him ready for Cheltenham.
This is where the National Hunt season really starts to boil up as horses have their last prep runs before Cheltenham.
On this side of the Irish Sea, we have the Dublin Racing Festival next weekend.
It’s a very exciting time for everyone and there will be plenty of clues for the Festival after this weekend.
Cheltenham on Saturday
I think Emma Lavelle is going to have a good day to keep her fantastic season going.
De Rasher Counter was a very good winner of the Ladbroke Trophy at Newbury and could well be overlooked is the Cotswold Chase (14:25). He jumps well and stays incredibly well. If anything, I think this trip will suit him more than most.
Santini is still big and raw and the Gold Cup is going to be his big target, so he might come on for this run.
Paisley Park looks solid enough in the Cleeve Hurdle (15:35) and winning this should be a formality for him.
He’s very good at Cheltenham, as we saw when he won the Stayers’ Hurdle last season, and looked very good at Newbury on his only run this season. I really can’t see him getting beaten.
In the Ballymore Trial (15:00), I’m looking forward to seeing Harry Fry’s King Roland again.
He’s looked very smart and is definitely on an upward curve. He could end up being high-class. He’s always been very highly thought of and can stamp his authority following a good success last time.
Arkle Trial at Doncaster
Up at Doncaster, there is a good Arkle Trial (12:55) on show. I’m a big fan of Al Dancer , who was a cracking novice hurdler.
He hasn’t set the world alight over fences but has shown plenty of ability, and this small field will suit him well.
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