Martin's Golden Spear to cut down rivals
I was quite impressed by Rachael Blackmore's win on board Baby Jake at Cartmel for 'Shark' Hanlon a couple of weeks ago, and the successful partnership can be resumed in the opening Guinness Handicap Hurdle today (5.10), priced around 8/1.
It was a good training performance too with a horse which hadn't won in eight attempts and seemed reasonably exposed in handicaps.
But Baby Jake obviously has more to come at the age of seven and he gets in here off a mark of 118 which puts him in near the bottom of the weights with 10st 7lbs.
Automated, Heartbreak City and Chatham House Rule are all live contenders too but Blackmore's 5lb claim should prove useful here and the price is a bit of value.
The Guinness 17:59 EBF Median Auction Maiden (5.45) offers little by way of form and Aidan O'Brien's newcomer Wings Of Eagles looks interesting - but preference is for Dermot Weld's Lost In Silence, which is likely to go off as favourite around 6/4 under Pat Smullen.
She was going well in her debut maiden at Limerick last month at 7/1, but got squeezed for space a couple of furlongs out and was forced to switch which saw her finish second to 6/4 favourite Ellery Lane.
That result doesn't look too bad considering Ellery Lane subsequently ran well in fourth in a Group Three, although I'm a little worried about Joseph O'Brien's Epitaph, a son of Henrythenavigator. He was third in a maiden at Bellewstown recently and should come on for the run.
The Guinness Galway Blazers Handicap Chase is up next (6.15) and it's probably a race for going each-way. At 14/1 or thereabouts, A Decent Excuse is tipped to land a place at the least for Eugene O'Sullivan under jockey David Mullins.
He's generally quite useful over both fences and hurdles although his form has been up and down of late. He won a competitive chase at Killarney back in August which was a career best off a mark off 119 and although he's struggled since with a rating in the mid 120s, he's been given a chance today off 121 for a racing weight of 10st 13lbs.
Fifth of 13 runners in a handicap hurdle at Killarney a couple of weeks ago, he seems to act on most types of ground. Dermot Weld's Waaheb is another obvious one to watch although he's quite high in the weights but short in the betting.
It will be interesting to see if there are any market moves for Golden Spear in the Guinness Handicap (6.50), which has a forecast price of 12/1. Tony Martin's gelding has not been seen since finishing mid-division in the Leopardstown November Handicap (won by Silver Concorde) but he seemed a little stretched by the trip.
He's down 4lbs in the weights to 81 but it's worth remembering that he finished second in this race off that rating last year and I'd expect to see an improvement on his latest run now that he's back down in trip.
Alveena, which shed her maiden tag here back in September, looks the best of the rest although I'm not enticed by her early odds of 7/2. Aged four, Dermot Weld's filly has won some decent handicaps and ran with credit in a Group Two at the Curragh last time.
I'm quite keen on Ivan Grozny in the Guinness Race (7.25) although the odds available depend on whether Tony Martin's Quick Jack takes his place.
Willie Mullins' gelding won a Grade Three hurdle at Tipperary three weeks ago so would appear to be in good order and his latest Flat race at Royal Ascot, in which he finished mid-division in the Duke of Edinburgh, is overlooked as he met trouble in-running a couple of furlongs out.
I'll keep my stakes to a minimum in the Arthur Guinness Handicap although the market often does a good job at sorting the wheat from the chaff here and the last two winners were favourites.
If money arrives for Three Majors, it could be worth following but I'm going to take an each-way chance on Intrepid Prince, which should go off at a double-figure price. Second-last in the ratings at 55, he's raced below form this term although the handicapper has knocked a few pounds off which leaves him in with an outside chance.
Just four horses go to post in the Guinness EBF Maiden (8.30) and it's hard to get away from Zulu Alpha for Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen, although I expect the layers will be cautious here so the price is likely to be odds-on.
His third place of four when running on late at Leopardstown looks worse on paper than it actually was and he's best judged on his debut at Gowran in October in which he was second by a short head to Jim Bolger's Mandarin Monarch.
While Mandarin Monarch hasn't done much since, Sword Fighter which was third that day has since gone on to win a Group Two at the Curragh. Aidan O'Brien's Triplicate is the one most likely to follow the selection home.
5.10: Baby Jake
5.45: Lost In Silence
6.15: A Decent Excuse (e/w)
6.50: Golden Spear
7.25: Ivan Grozny
8.0: Intrepid Prince
8.30 Zulu Alpha (Nap)