2m½f (2m100y) Killashee Hotel Handicap Hurdle (Grade B) (4yo+)
There’s such a strong case for ARDLA to be well handicapped off an opening handicap mark of 125 that he’s got to be backed. He’s finished up the backside of the 141 Martin Pipe winner Banbridge and the 138 rated Grand Jury, as well as soundly beating the 134 rated Deploy The Getaway. Banbridge gave him 3lb but the other two form lines were off level weights and this horse has to be well in off that mark. His prominent racing style reduces the chances of bad luck in running and he looks sure to go close.
1pt win Ardla @11/2, 16:50 Punchestown, Tuesday
3m½f (3m60y) Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase (Grade 1) (5yo+)
It can be difficult to separate heart from head with some horses, but watching my old friend MILLERS BANK dot up in a Grade 1 at Aintree only reinvigorated my belief he’s a chaser going places. Compared with Fakir D’Oudairies’s win over the same course and distance the following day, Millers Bank’s race was run at a fairly sedate pace with the winner quickening late on. He strode through the line like a horse who will improve for three miles and has always given that impression to date, so this looks the perfect target for him. Good ground is key, and he ran well enough at Kempton to prove going left-handed isn’t a necessity, so it’s only the looming presence of Bob Olinger that tempers enthusiasm. Fortunately, we know Bob’s weaknesses; his jumping is sketchy and he does have to bounce back from pulling muscles at Cheltenham. Henry de Bromhead’s horses ran like drains at this meeting last season and I don’t think we should be too afraid of taking him on on what is also his first try at this trip. 11/1 is generous.
1pt win Millers Bank @11/1, 18:35 Punchestown, TuesdayLeave a comment