It is a quite enough weekend but not without some intrigue all the same and some good performances might book a passage to Cheltenham.
That could be the case for Dogora if he does it well in the beginners’ chase (1.35) at Fairyhouse today.
It’s a big drop down in class from the big handicaps he has been competing in and certainly, a repeat of his form when fifth in the Boylesports Chase last month should be good enough to win. That’s rock solid form.
He has been a little frustrating in not winning a chase yet but there is no Foxrock or Bright New Dawn in this. Smokey Joe Joe will probably make sure it’s a good gallop.
I know Dogora fell in the Paddy Power but he jumped super in the Troytown and again in Leopardstown. He is working well and should improve from that last run.
If he wins well, don’t be surprised to see Dogora turn up in one of the handicaps at Cheltenham.
An Dearg Mor is Willie’s representative in the bumper (4.25). He’s a huge, big monster of a horse by Robin Des Champs who works well and Patrick and Emmet like him. He should win. You’d imagine he’ll be a chaser in time. He’s so big that even if he can’t jump, he’ll plough them out of the way.
I start with Hold The Line (1.50) in Naas for Pat Shanahan. He jumped well for his first run and the drier ground should suit him.
Pat is happy with him and you’d be hopeful he’ll go close. A Hardy Nailer looks the one to beat, having finished only two lengths behind Black Hercules in Cork. The two miles would have been inadequate for Black Hercules but it’s good form.
The Woodlands Park Novice Handicap Chase (2.50) has changed in that it’s a limited handicap now. That means Sir Harry Cash is five pounds out of the handicap. He has good form on the track. Two miles was too sharp for him last time and the extra half mile will suit.
He’s a good jumper. I’ve been lucky enough to win two races on him and I like riding him. He’ll run a good race and is an each-way chance but with the likes of Bishops Road, Fine Rightly, Sizing Coal and Champagne James, it’s very competitive.
I like Max Dynamite who runs in the Grade 2 novice hurdle (3.20). He didn’t run in a novice at Christmas. He ran in a four-year-old only contest but that meant he ran into Kitten Rock.
Now I would say there was no shame in getting beaten by Kitten Rock in his second start over hurdles. I think he’s improved from that and will benefit from further in time.
Modem’s run when just touched off in the Boylesports Hurdle was very good, while Lean Araig’s two runs are over three miles.
But what he’ll probably do which will suit me is make sure it’s a good gallop. Aminabad was a bit disappointing in Punchestown finishing behind All Hell Let Loose so Bryan Cooper has swopped, which is the logical thing to do.
I think Max Dynamite has a real good chance and again, if he wins, he might crop up in a handicap at the Festival. I fancy him.
Twinlight (3.50) has good form in Naas and won there last year. He made a bad mistake behind Hidden Cyclone in Punchestown which cost him second. He’s in good order but I think Mallowney will be hard to beat. He was very impressive in the Dan Moore.
The bumper (4.50) has produced two Cheltenham Champion Bumper winners in Pizarro and Hairy Molly, while Rite Of Passage, Outlander and Killultagh Vic are some of the more recent victors. There may be only three runners in this renewal but it’s a high-class affair and will be a race worth watching.
I know they say you should back the outsider of the three but I’d be surprised if Tombstone beats either of these.
Tycoon Prince impressed when beating Royal Caviar by eight lengths but do love Up For Review. I thought he was good at Christmas and though he’s a three-mile chaser in the making, he’ll love Naas. He has a massive stride and he’ll do for me.