Monday 19 March 2018

Coleman to hit winning note on Tenor

Triumphant duo at Cheltenham last year can collect again

Jockey David Noonan falls from Steady Eddie at the first fence in the 25 Free Bet Maiden Hurdle at Doncaster
Jockey David Noonan falls from Steady Eddie at the first fence in the 25 Free Bet Maiden Hurdle at Doncaster
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Noel Meade probably has the best chance of securing a first win for the raiders in today's Cheltenham feature since he claimed the race with Sir OJ ten years ago.

Texas Jack represents the former champion trainer in the £100,000 handicap chase, with Barry Geraghty's booking a bonus for the nine-year-old's chance. Willie Mullins relies on Mozoltov.

While you should never underestimate Mullins, it's not easy to envisage Mozoltov winning such a competitive affair on its first start for 592 days.

Texas Jack has run better than the form suggests on its last couple of starts. His stamina was stretched behind Don Cossack in the north last time, so this drop in trip and class will suit, as will the soft ground.

He could well make the frame at odds of up to 25/1. Those among the 15-strong field that relish a cut will be in their element here, so the likes of Annacotty and Buywise should be to the fore again.

Buywise was unlucky not to beat Annacotty in the Paddy Power, getting stuck in ­traffic on touching down over the last fence. It was frustrating, but that's him. While there is a chance that Buywise will finally get it right, at 7/1, there isn't much juice left in his price, given his baggage. The value option at odds of up to 12/1 is Tenor Nivernais. Representing last year's winning partnership of Venetia Williams and Aidan Coleman, Tenor ­Nivernais was a facile winner from race-fit rivals of an Ascot handicap on his return.

In soft ground, distances can be exaggerated, and maybe the placed horses just got tired. However, you couldn't fault the manner in which Tenor Nivernais went about his job. He travelled and fenced fluently before putting the race to bed, so you couldn't argue with a 12-pound ratings hike.

The question now is whether he can still win off a rating of 144. This corner would argue that he can, as he clearly wasn't himself for most of last season, and you simply cannot ignore the authority of his Ascot triumph.

The layers might be underestimating him on the basis that he didn't progress after winning first time out last season, but he only scraped home that day.

At Ascot this time, he looked a far more formidable animal, so, off a nice racing weight of 10st 8lb, he is trusted to confirm the impression that he is more the finished article now.

Sempre Medici's presence in the International Hurdle might be the primary reason for the Prestbury Park foray of Mullins and Ruby Walsh. He could have a say, but Peace And Co is as big as evens to collect. Those odds look more than fair about Nicky Henderson's Triumph Hurdle hero, with the chief concern being that he could race too freely after a lay-off.

More Of That will start at prohibitive odds in the novices' chase. He looked like his old self when scoring here on his return, but the ground will be softer now, while Geraghty may be forced to cut out his own running. With that in mind, Evan Williams' Padge might be worth a speculative foray.

A son of Flemensfirth, he is an unexposed sort that took to fences well at Ascot, winning despite still racing greenly at the death.

Padge has the scope to capitalise under Noel Fehily if the favourite were to have an off day.

Watching Brief ...

A trio of Irish raiders will run at Sha Tin in Hong Kong tomorrow.

Eddie Lynam's Sole Power has a fourth stab at the sprint, a six-furlong contest in which he finished second in 2013. Chris Hayes's redoubtable mount is always to be respected, but he continues to be vulnerable at this longer distance.

Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore combine for Highland Reel in the Hong Kong Vase. The step back up to 12 furlongs should suit, but the dual Arc runner-up Flintshire sets a tall standard in opposition.

Both Sole Power and ­Highland Reel are reasonable each-way options at odds of 16/1 and 6/1, but Free Eagle is surely the raiding party's best chance of a victory.

On all known form, ­Dermot Weld's four-year-old is a ­superior horse to any of his 13 rivals in the near €3m Hong Kong Cup.

The Royal Ascot hero emerged with massive credit from defeat in both the Arc and the Irish Champion Stakes, and this is just his fourth start of the year. If he has travelled well and Pat Smullen figures out a way to overcome a poor draw, odds of 4/1 might yet look huge.

Irish Independent

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