Joncol class to rain on rivals' Hennessy parade
With Paul Townend on duty at the rearranged Hennessy Gold Cup meeting at Leopardstown, I have fallen in for the ride on Final Approach in the Totesport Trophy Hurdle at Newbury.
It's my only mount of the day, but it's a fine one to have.
Final Approach was very good in the MCR Hurdle under Paul, and these big-field handicaps suit him. He likes to pass horses as he goes, although they don't tend to come back to you as much in England, so I probably won't sit any further back than mid-division today.
You always need a bit of luck in running when you are coming from off the pace in a race like this but, if Final Approach gets some, I'd be hopeful that he'd go very close.
He is 14lbs higher than when he won at Leopardstown, but he looked as though he had plenty in hand that day. The ground at Newbury should be ideal too.
Walkon could be the main danger. He has won Grade Ones and Alan King's horses are flying, so he has to be respected.
Last year's winner Get Me Out Of Here is another that I'd expect to show up well. He has disappointed so far this season, but Jonjo O'Neill will have him right for this.
Over at Leopardstown today, I still fancy Joncol to retain the Hennessy Gold Cup that he won last year, but the heavier ground will help Money Trix's chance. Money Trix is a pure mudlark and he always runs well at Leopardstown.
When he and Joncol last met in the Lexus, he just shaded the battle for second behind Pandorama, so you couldn't write him off now that the rain has come again. That said, I still expect Joncol's class to just shade it.
The change in conditions might have a material effect on the outcome of the Deloitte Novice Hurdle.
A week ago, I thought Hidden Universe was the one in this, but it's hard to get away from Zaidpour now that the ground has changed. Genuinely testing ground might just tilt the balance his way.
At Navan tomorrow, my best ride is probably Gordon Elliot's Dantes King in the maiden hurdle.
A point-to-point winner 12 months ago, I rode him to be fourth behind Shot From The Hip at Leopardstown after Christmas. That was a good maiden hurdle.
Since then, Dantes King finished second to Knockgraffon King in a bumper at Naas. The third that day, Allee Garde, won easily at Down Royal last week, so the form is solid.
I'd also fancy Shinrock Paddy in the Ladbrokes.com Boyne Hurdle. He is a tough sort, and he won a Grade One at the same course last season, so he could take some stopping again now.
Voler La Vedette is the obvious danger, but two miles and five furlongs in heavy ground may not suit her. She tends to pull quite hard, which might prove her undoing in these conditions.
Davy's double -- Joncol and Dantes King