Have faith in Rupert to bear Festival fruit
Published 16/03/2011 | 09:21
It'll be tough to top yesterday's four winners from this column, with 10/1 shot Divers topping off what would have been a 529/1 accumulator, as day two of the Festival looks like a chance for the bookies to claw back some ground.
There are no hotpots along the lines of Quevega, which won in such style yesterday, but a horse I'm a big fan of is Time for Rupert in the RSA Chase. He's been around the track before (winning on his last two outings here) and I know he stays and jumps.
Mikael D'Haguenet didn't impress me with his jumping when I watched him after racing in Leopardstown, and Quel Esprit doesn't convince either.
Jessies Dream is worth consideration and has the edge in terms of experience, but Rupert is the one for me here.
I have a ride in the Coral Cup on Orsippus and we won a Juvenile Grade One in Aintree last year. Unfortunately, his season has been interrupted for a couple of reasons and it's a pity because his run to third in the Fred Winter last year suggested he could do well on his return to the Festival.
As a Grade One winner at this weight he has to be respected and he was fourth last time out behind Peddlers Cross, which ran well yesterday. I think there could be a place there for us but I know Willie Mullins' Call The Police is a decent sort and he could take all the beating.
Naturally, the Queen Mother Champion Chase will demand plenty of attention and people seem to have largely divided themselves into two camps.
For me, Big Zeb can retain his crown. Colm Murphy has been making all the right noises about his inmate, while at Ascot in his last run Master Minded was run to a short head by Somersby, which is a decent horse, but I couldn't ever see him winning this race.
Ruby's return is a boost as they get on very well, but they have a bit to find. Elsewhere in the field, Captain Cee Bee's jumping isn't sharp enough in this company, meaning Big Zeb is the one they'll all be following up the hill. The Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle is very open, but I know Gordon Elliott considers Plan A as one of his better chances of a winner of his eight runners at the Festival.
His weight is slightly prohibitive, but he has certainly been going the right way at home and it's a big plus that he has been around the track before, when he ran third, and is worthy of tentative consideration.
In the bumper, there's plenty worth looking at, but Willie's two might come up a little short. Philip Rothwell's Divine Rhapsody won the Land Rover Bumper at Punchestown and is worthy of consideration, while Double Double has plenty of ability with two wins and a second under his belt so far.
But it is Raise The Beat that catches my eye. They have put him away waiting for the right ground for him and he'll get that today.
In the novices' hurdle, So Young is a horse of Willie's that caught my eye. At the Curragh last Tuesday, Ruby rode him and was very impressed. Even though it's a tough race to call, with Oscars Well a talented sort, I expect So Young to go very close.
Finally, the day's action opens with an amateur race, where the lightly-raced Alfa Beat gets the nod.
1.30 Alfa Beat
2.05 So Young
2.40 Time For Rupert
3.20 Big Zeb
4.00 Orsippus EW
4.40 Plan A
5.15 Raise The Beat