Richard Forristal: Zaarito solid value to grab headlines
Despite the likes of Sizing Europe and Captain Cee Bee being absent, tomorrow's Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Chase at Leopardstown promises to be a cracking event. While Ruby Walsh has opted to partner Sports Line rather than Paul Nicholls' Take The Breeze, the latter retains favouritism, trading as short as 7/4 in places.
At a general 11/4, Sports Line is undoubtedly an attractive proposition. Given what he has yet to prove at this level though, he is passed over for now.
Clearly held in high esteem by both Willie Mullins and Walsh, Sports Line may make light of the transition to graded company, but the fact remains that you need to take an awful lot on trust if you are to back him. On paper thus far, the height of his achievements is a novice hurdle victory at Naas in March, and you would just rather see a bit more of him before investing.
The horse to take on board is Zaarito (above) , which is similarly promising and has performed well in more thorough tests. A useful novice over hurdles, Colm Murphy's charge fell at Thurles on his chasing debut but put the tumble behind him with an excellent effort at Naas next time.
On that occasion, he failed by only a quarter of a length to reel in Captain Cee Bee, and the winner went on to give Sizing Europe a good scare before tripping up at the last at Leopardstown over Christmas.
Zaarito, for his part, subsequently made light of the opposition in a beginners' event at the Dublin track, form that was done no harm by the fifth horse, Citizen Vic, winning at Punchestown on Wednesday.
If he progresses from that now, Zaarito ought to be right in the mix, and it's encouraging that Denis O'Regan has travelled over to keep the partnership intact. Widely available at 3/1, Zaarito represents solid value.
Down at Limerick, Willie Mullins unleashes yet another bright chasing prospect in the beginners' chase, the three-time hurdle winner Quiscover Fontaine. On hurdling form, there is no doubt that Quiscover Fontaine is the horse to beat, but novices can be a law unto themselves, and he is forecast to go off at a prohibitive 4/6.
In light if that, he is opposed with something that has a bit of experience over the bigger obstacles, if not the six-year-old's class. Echo Bob is the one to side with.
A five-time runner up, Henry de Bromhead's son of Bob's Return jumped with aplomb when second on his fencing debut at Tramore. While his run flattened out from the last on that occasion, the experience will stand to him now.