Promising Decor Irlandais has a winning look
The Grade Two Ballymore Leamington Novices' Hurdle (2.25 Warwick) often produces noteworthy horses for the spring festivals, and I'm looking forward to backing Noel Kelly's Decor Irlandais, which was trading at 3/1 yesterday.
A multiple point-to-point winner, the seven-year-old has now won three novice hurdle races under rules. And it was interesting to see Kelly make an unusual move and bring him back to the point-to-point scene to give him some confidence and sort out his jumping, following a couple of promising runs in bumpers last year.
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While he was pulled up in a chase last March, he's since made his mark in novice hurdles, winning twice at Cartmel last summer, before running well in a couple of handicaps, both of which he traded at short prices in-running on Betfair before finishing second and fourth respectively.
But he really caught my eye when last seen in December, coming home very strongly in another novice hurdle at Catterick despite a hefty penalty and putting seven-time chase winner and 11/10 favourite Mercian Prince to the sword. All going well, I'm sure Kelly will aim him at Cheltenham, although he has a battle on his hands today with 11/4 favourite Shan Blue.
Dan Skelton's gelding is also an Irish point-to-point winner, and has shown plenty of promise over hurdles this term, most notably winning a Southwell maiden by 20 lengths, although if the truth be told, it wasn't a particularly good race. But, as they say, he can only beat what's in front of him on the day, and we should learn a bit more about his ability here. It's also worth noting that Skelton has won this race a couple of times including last year's renewal.
On the Polytrack at Lingfield, Here's Two gets a speculative vote around 10/1 in the Ladbrokes Home Of The Odds Boost Fillies' Handicap (2.35). Along with Lady Alavesa, she's one of two course-and-distance winners in the nine-runner field, having found success in a handicap last April when rated 67.
She's since gone six races without a victory, although her rating has been a little on the high side in the 70s and she's now 1lb lower than that last winning mark, leaving her in with a fighting chance at a great price. The one worry is that she's not been seen since October, although that didn't hamper her for that April win which came after a 179-day break.
Finally at Wetherby, Dhowin gets the nod in the Bet At racingtv.com Novices' Hurdle (1.40), priced in the region of 11/4. Trained by Jonjo O'Neill with Jonjo Jr booked for today, he's looking to follow up his first win last time out in a novice hurdle at Hereford on heavy ground in which the odds-on favourite, Olly The Brave, could only manage third.
That was just his second start over hurdles following a couple of promising bumpers last season, and depending on how things go today, he could be one for the notebook with more improvement likely.
Do the double
Some Liverpool fans won’t count their chickens and admit they’re home and hosed in the league, despite odds of 1/25. But the next question is how long they’ll go unbeaten, and while an away match to Spurs would seem a good candidate for an upset, on recent form I just can’t see it happening. Mourinho was in charge of the opposition during the famous 2014 ‘slip-up’, but Liverpool can finally atone with a win here, priced 8/11.
Nicky Henderson’s Top Notch may be slightly below the level his name suggests, but he’s a smart sort and deserves a price of 4/5 for the Grade Two Unibet Silviniaco Conti Chase (2.05 Kempton) with stablemate Altior ruled out. Top Notch has won a number of chases at this level including the Peterborough last time, and he also has Grade One form to his name from 2017.
Considering she was pulled up in her latest race, it’s no surprise to see Goodnight Charlie friendless in the betting for the Grade Three McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Handicap Chase at Warwick (3.0). However, 33/1 looks far too high as she made an error in that race and ran like something was amiss. She’s been dropped 3lbs to 122 which leaves her in with a realistic chance of a place, having won a handicap at Cheltenham back in April off 117. She’s got a great record at this course too, winning three of her nine races here including one at this distance, and she was placed in a further three.
1.40 Wetherby: Dhowin
2.05 Kempton: Top Notch
2.25 Warwick: Decor Irlandais
2.35 Lingfield: Here’s Two
3.0 Warw’k: Goodnight Charlie (e/w)
3.40 Lingfield: Wilson (e/w)