The next few weeks in Ireland are so exciting as we build up to the Dublin Racing Festival.
While still in its infancy, there are plenty of top races and, with superb prize money on offer, it always attracts the top talent from this side of the Irish Sea.
Navan and Thurles
There are two I like in Ireland this weekend and Davy Russell rides both of them.
On Sunday, I’m looking forward to seeing Festival D’ex run again for Gordon [Elliot] in the 13:35 at Thurles. He looks to be a real smart horse who is unbeaten in two.
On Saturday at Navan he’s aboard The Bosses Oscar in the 13:55 and he should take some stopping. He was second two starts ago behind Blue Sari, who is going to be a Grade 1 performer in time, and on his most recent start over Christmas he was a very good winner at Leopardstown.
He’s got a lovely racing weight and should be tough to beat with a good prize pot on offer.
Ascot and Haydock on Saturday
The big race of the day on Saturday is the rematch of the Tingle Creek, with Defi Du Seuil and Un De Sceaux battling it out at Ascot in the Clarence House Chase (15:35).
While you can’t ignore what he’s done this season, I’m still not entirely convinced with Defi Du Seuil. He has to be ridden perfectly each time to utilise his one turn of foot, and that is more a compliment to Barry [Geraghty], who has got it spot on each time.
I favour Un De Sceaux in the rematch. I was worried that, at 12 years of age, his zest for the game may be reducing, but he was superb in defeat at Sandown Park. With Ascot expecting plenty of rain, I expect the conditions to favour him more.
It would be great to see him win another Grade 1 at his age.
The Champion Hurdle Trial (15:15) at Haydock doesn’t have the field size that we’d all like to see, but it’s so competitive in the runners that are lining up.
Darasso is interesting for Joseph [O’Brien] but will no doubt come on for his first run of the season, especially with the big festivals coming up.
While he needs to improve for fitness, Pentland Hills should be winning this if he’s going to win a Champion Hurdle. He was class in the Triumph and backed that up at Aintree, too.
He blew up on his return at Cheltenham in December when he was much too keen, but, with Cornerstone Lad likely to shoot off and make it a test, he should settle better and see the race out in good fashion.