'Petit' can outgun 'Jade' in down royal cracker
It's likely bookmakers will regard Apple's Jade as next to unbeatable at Down Royal today in the Grade Two WKD Hurdle but it may not be so simple.
While she is terrifically exciting, having been one of the best juvenile hurdlers we have seen in some time, she has changed stables and is not especially well-treated by the race conditions. She gets just 2lb off Petit Mouchoir, which is an older gelding and has very good Grade One form. The market will be intriguing about a race that Gigginstown seems certain to win but the advice is to back Petit Mouchoir with the bookmakers early.
Another likely hotpot that's vulnerable is Airlie Beach in the mares' novice hurdle. She gives weight away over a trip perhaps shy of her best and in Miss Eyecatcher and Shattered Love, the selection, she faces two smart bumper winners.
This is a splendid jumps card and Gigginstown, Gordon Elliott and Ruby Walsh can call the shots. They can strike in the opener with Monbeg Notorious, described as "gorgeous" by Elliott, and with smart hurdler A Toi Phil in the maiden chase.
The ground at The Maze remains on the good side, with rain forecast this morning but little came yesterday.
Dundalk punters should note several horses dropping in the weights as the 2016 season is officially over. Handicapper Garry O'Gorman said: "It ensures consistency of ratings levels year on year to ensure fair competition between generations. Drops in ratings are largely determined by the profile of a horse in a given year with non-winners dropping more than winners."
Thus Strategic Force, beaten a neck off 64 last week, now runs off 58 in the first sprint handicap. It was a toss-up between him and the raider, Dougan, in the feature for lock-of-the-night status. Both have little to fear if they run to form.