Katie Walsh: My picks for the racing this weekend
The Betway ambassador previews the weekend racing at Haydock, Ascot, Gowran Park and Navan.
Navan on Sunday
Gordon Elliot has won the Monksfield Hurdle six times in the last 10 years and you have to think he’ll be winning it again this year. It’ll be difficult to split his two, but I do think that Hollow Games could be the one based on Davy Russell’s jockey booking. He’ll have had the choice of both he and Ginto and he's chosen the horse he feels could be better (13:50).
The Troytown Chase is hugely competitive, it’s a proper staying handicap chase. You could throw a few darts at this and still miss the board, but I do like the way Top Moon went last time and this will have been the target for a while. He doesn’t win very often, but seems to handle good ground, which should put him in the mix (14:50).
Haydock on Saturday
In the opener at Haydock, I can’t see why Haute Estime is the outsider of the field. I thought she was very good the last day and ran in some good bumpers prior to that. She gets allowances in the race and Lucinda Russell isn’t the type to put her young horses into a Listed contest on their second run over hurdles.
Bravemansgame is the one to beat in the Graduation Chase (13:50). Paul Nicholls is having a good time of it and, as ever, is exceptional at finding opportunities for his horses. Getting weight from other horses is another good bit of placing. They think he’s a potential Gold Cup horse in time.
Rightplacerightime looks like a real plot, doesn’t he? We all know how shrewd his connections are and they’ll be delighted that he managed to sneak in at the bottom of the weights. He bolted up over fences at Fairyhouse last time and I wonder if he could be this season’s The Shunter? He goes in the 14:25 here.
A Plus Tard could be different gravy to his rivals. He placed in the Gold Cup, and could have won it on a different day, and you’d have to question whether the horses he’s up against (15:00) are true Gold Cup class. I’d say they all fall short on ability, it’ll just come down to match fitness. If he is fully tuned up, you can see Rachael stalking him up Haydock’s long home straight with an eye to taking it up coming down to the second last (15:00).
Ascot on Saturday
It was brilliant to see Dasher Drasher winning big races for Jeremy Scott last season. He kept improving and kept winning, especially around Ascot. He loves that place. There are question marks around the soundness of Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation in the 14:05, who are both very good on their going days but have just had poor seasons.
Buzz gets 6lbs from his rivals in the Ascot Hurdle and that should be enough to see him win (14:40). He improved hugely last season and was good enough to win the Cesarewitch at Newmarket last month, too. Song For Someone is a good horse on this ground, but will find it tough giving weight to Buzz.
Gowran Park on Saturday
I’ll be glued to Gowran Park on Saturday afternoon as we’re going to see a few potentially really smart young horses. This is what makes the game so exciting.
Bob Olinger was made a non-runner last weekend, but we’ve not had to wait long to see him make his debut over fences (12:00). He is one of the most exciting horses in training and it’ll be great to see him make an explosive start over fences. With Rachael over at Haydock, it’s a lovely ride for young Darragh O’Keeffe to pick up.
Deploy The Getaway is another young horse with a huge reputation. He was beaten on his first start for Willie Mullins in a bumper last season, but good horses can get beaten in bumpers. He looks as though he could be a stayer in the making (13:38).
Saint Felicien has arrived from France with a big name for himself and there have been positive vibes coming from his yard, too. It looks like a tough place to start your hurdling career, but that might be an indication of how good they think he is (14:13).
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