I WAS looking through previous runnings of the Grade B Guinness Handicap Hurdle (6.15 Galway) to see if I could come up with some sort of profile of the type of horse it takes to win it, and one thing that stood out was that the average age of the winners has been 6.3.
hat’s based on data going back as far as 1997, and it was a little off-putting as the one that ticks most other boxes for me is ten-year-old Plinth.
Prince Rudi did win this aged 12 in 2014, so it can be done, and those figures are not going to put me off backing Plinth because if you delve a little deeper, you’ll see that 103 six-year-old horses took part during that period, but older horses were few and far between with just 12 ten-year-olds taking part, for example.
Of course, we all like our selection to fit the winning trends, but it’s never that simple, and Prince Rudi put in a career-best in that win in 2014. Regular readers will know I’m wary of backing older horses, but Plinth still looks like he’s got a bit to offer, having recently switched to Enda Bolger’s yard from Joseph O’Brien.
He raced well before running out of steam in this last year, finishing eighth of 18 off 127, which is 2lb higher than now. On his first run for Bolger, he wasn’t disgraced when finishing mid-division in a Grade Three hurdle, which is now a bit above his level, at a massive 125/1.
He was last seen when fourth in a Kilbeggan handicap over fences where he kept on well which offers promise. Back over hurdles again, I reckon he can go well off this mark, the lowest he’s ever been over timber.
A good case could be made for a number of others including Flooring Porter, Canardier and My Sister Sarah but I’m happy to take a chance on Plinth at a nice price.
Another at a good price is Trans Wood, which I’m hoping to back each-way around 14/1 in the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Hurdle (5.15). She’s one of those that can’t seem to get the head in front and has just one win in 24 runs – although on the plus side, she’s been placed eight times and that’s the basis of the each-way bet. Of course, a win would be a nice bonus.
She’s been dropped from 108 in the ratings to 103, which may still be restrictive, although she was second quite a few times in and around that mark so fingers crossed she can get back on track following a mid-division placing in a Ballinrobe handicap last time out.
In the following Guinness Galway Tribes Handicap Hurdle (5.45), a chance is taken on Goodbye Someday, priced in the region of 8/1. John Kiely’s gelding finally got off the mark in his eighth race over hurdles last time in a Tramore novice pretty comfortably, and back down in trip for this, should be thereabouts.
At Goodwood, One Master looks a cracking deal around 7/4 for the Fillies’ and Mares’ Saint Clair Oak Tree Stakes (1.45).
She ran a great race when fourth to Nazeef in the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket last time, and the six-year-old has a couple of Group One wins to her credit from Longchamp. She’s the class act here, and will be very hard to beat stepping down in class for this.
Another one that looks nailed on at Goodwood is Khaloosy, although he’s short in the early markets at 8/11 for the Group Three Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes (2.15). Roger Varian’s colt stormed clear to take the Britannia Stakes Handicap at Royal Ascot on just his third outing, and despite showing signs of greenness, he destroyed the field when Jim Crowley asked him to kick on.
He’s definitely one to keep onside in some Group races, and this is a straightforward penalty kick with just four rivals tomorrow compared to 21 at Royal Ascot. My Oberon is the one most likely to follow him home.
Finally, Desert Encounter catches the eye in the Group Three L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Glorious Stakes (3.45), and was trading at 11/4 yesterday. Now aged eight, he won this race last year which kicked off a string of successes including the Canadian International at Woodbine for the second year running. While he ran a couple of poor races since, and finished behind Friday’s main rival Communique last time, I’m sure connections have had this race in mind for some time.
Race-by-race guide to day five
4.45 - It will be interesting to see how Willie Mullins’ N’Golo performs, but he’s a bit too short for a bet at even-money. Another French import, he makes his hurdling debut having won on the Flat at Clairefontaine. Denis Hogan’s ROYAL AIDE gets the nod around 7/1 after finishing second in a maiden hurdle at Gowran recently.
5.15 - TRANS WOOD was runner-up a number of times around this mark of 103, and the mare looks a good each-way option at 14/1. Eagle Moon won a novice last time and has strong claims, but is a little short around 3/1.
5.45 - GOODBYE SOMEDAY has been in good form lately, winning a novice hurdle at Tramore a couple of weeks ago, and is tipped back in handicap company around 8/1. Rasiym and Filon D’Oudairies are others for the shortlist.
6.15 - PLINTH makes appeal from Enda Bolger’s yard under the Galway Plate-winning jockey Mark Walsh. A dual chaser/hurdler, the ten-year-old has raced twice since switched from Joseph O’Brien’s yard, and was a decent fourth in a handicap chase at Kilbeggan.
6.45 - Joseph O’Brien’s STAR MAX makes appeal at 2/1 or thereabouts. He’s become a little frustrating to follow with three places but no wins from seven races over fences, but finding the right contest for him appears difficult, and he may just find his feet tomorrow dropped back in trip.
7.15 - THE STORYTELLER was pulled up in the Galway Plate on Wednesday but can bounce back around 11/4, provided Gordon Elliott gives him the go-ahead to race. A very talented hurdler, he’s won three over fences and Wednesday’s run can be discounted as Davy Russell picked up an injury following some early mistakes.
7.45 - A fairly open-looking handicap chase, a chance is taken each-way on the Gordon Elliott-trained CREADAN GRAE, which I’m hoping to back at 20/1 or higher. He raced poorly in a handicap chase at Kilbeggan earlier on this month, but he had been away for ten months, and he appeared to be in need of the run.
8.15 - Hallowed Star is likely to be a short-priced favourite here around evens, but JAWBOX looks better value at 2/1. He fell in a novice hurdle last time but offered promise when runner-up in two bumpers previously.