Decisson can hit the mark on hurdle bow for Hobbs
Quick Decisson is fancied to make a successful hurdling debut for Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson at Wincanton tomorrow.
A five-year-old son of Azamour that finished second in an Athlacca point-to-point last May, Quick Decisson ran out a commanding winner of its first bumper at the Somerset venue on St Stephen's Day. On its only outing since then, he was a commendable third to three-time bumper winner Vieux Lion Rouge, which went on to run respectably in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham.
At Exeter, Quick Decisson was conceding 7lb to David Pipe's charge, as he was to the well-fancied Couldhavehaditall, the horse that nabbed him for second on the line. In short, he is a useful prospect, so he should be good enough to plunder what is quite a modest looking two-mile novices' hurdle here.
Another worth consideration at Wincanton is Bobby Dove in the two-mile handicap chase. Just four go to post for this, with Little Jimmy likely to go a strong favourite.
However, Andrew Price's Bobby Dove, out of the Price family's 1994 Champion Hurdle heroine Flakey Dove, might be worth keeping on side. A winner at Huntingdon in January, the six-year-old has run really well to be placed on its last two starts, latterly finishing third to Tara Rose over two-and-a-quarter miles at Bangor.
That was a solid effort, but the drop back to a sharper two miles on testing ground is expected to bring out the best in Bobby Dove again, just as it did at Huntingdon. Garristown native Robbie Dunne, who did the steering on that occasion, is back in the saddle.
Outsider to note
Oscar Prairie shouldn't be underestimated in tomorrow's conditional jockeys' hurdle at Wincanton. Warren Greatrex's eight-year-old has yet to find his form this term, but ran his best race for some time when sixth over three miles at Bangor last month.
Following that, he has dropped 3lb to a mark of 122, which is 3lb lower than when he last won over two miles and five furlongs at Kempton a year ago. As such, Oscar Prairie is interesting again now over this trip. If 10lb-claiming jockey Will Pettis adopts positive tactics, the partnership could be hard to catch.
Wincanton 2.25 – Quick Decisson
Wincanton 2.55 – Bobby Dove
Wincanton 3.55 – Oscar Prairie
Curragh 3.0 – Bird's Eye View
5.0Irish time of Blackstairmount-ain's participation in Japan's Pegasus Jump Stakes at Nakayama this morning. Ruby Walsh rides Willie Mullins' dual Grade One winner in the Grade Three, which is viewed as a prep for next month's Grand Jump.
24 Black Caviar's unbeaten run after the sensational Aussie mare cruised up at Moonee Valley again yesterday (above). She returned an SP of 1/33 in her 14th Group One.
4Cards rescheduled by HRI. Today's lost Gowran fixture switches with a Flat card at the same venue on Tuesday, April 9, with the Flat card set to go ahead a day earlier. Tomorrow's Downpatrick spread is now on Wednesday, April 3, while last night's Dundalk programme moves to Thursday, March 28.
Quote of the week
"Aintree might be the favoured option." – Six words Punchestown folk didn't want to hear, as Nicky Henderson suggested he was leaning towards sending Sprinter Sacre to Liverpool.
When Flemenstar was ruled out of Cheltenham, we mused here that a clash between the two in the Melling Chase would be a fine alternative, only for Henderson to initially suggest that Punchestown would be up next for the Queen Mother hero. Now it looks like it might be on again, with Cue Card also in the mix. That would be a race to savour.
Three things we learned this week
1 Increasing prize money appears to have become a priority for Horse Racing Ireland. On Wednesday, HRI unveiled an initiative that enhances the purses of a series of 12 premier Flat handicaps to €100k or more, with tomorrow's Lincoln the first to benefit with a €100k pot, up €40k on 2012.
A further 14 handicaps have been given new minimum values of €50k, while Group Ones are up €10k to a minimum €200k, Group Twos up €5k to €100k and Group Threes and Listed races up €2.5k to €60k and €40k.
Yesterday, Punchestown announced a €200k prize money injection for next month's Festival, with the Champion Chase and Champion Hurdle up €60k and €40k. Given that HRI received a funding cut of over €1m for 2013, quite what is being compromised to permit such increases is unclear. In the week that HRI chairman Denis Brosnan was formally replaced by Joe Keeling, the obvious conclusion to draw is that this is a policy driven by the new man.
2 Punchestown is shaping up nicely. The basic principle behind the above initiative is to enable Irish racing keep pace with its international counterparts in terms of attracting the best horses. Notwithstanding that Sprinter Sacre might now head for Aintree instead, at this stage Hurricane Fly, Rock On Ruby, Sizing Europe, Sir Des Champs, Quevega, Solwhit, Reve De Sivola, First Lieutenant and Cue Card are all possible runners at next month's Festival. They would do!
3 Dundalk is far from immune to the climate. The 'all-weather' track has been a lifesaver since opening in 2007 but, after yesterday, we can now add high winds to fog and snow as weather related reasons for abandonments.
Monday: Lingfield (AW), Taunton, Towcester
Tuesday: Fontwell, Lingfield (AW), Southwell (AW)
Wednesday: Leopardstown, Lingfield (AW), Southwell (AW), Wetherby, Wolverhampton* (AW)
Thursday: Clonmel, Ffos Las, Ludlow, Wolverhampton (AW)
Friday: no racing
Saturday: Cork, Carlisle, Haydock, Kempton (AW), Musselburgh, Newton Abbot
Sunday: Cork, Fairyhouse, Musselburgh, Plumpton, Towcester
* denotes evening meeting