This weekend brings us the exciting Dublin Racing Festival. Last year was a huge success and provided us with some brilliant races and great pointers for the Cheltenham Festival.
The Irish Champion Hurdle is our target for this week’s blog and a more intriguing race you won’t find. Three high class hurdles dominate the market with the wonder mare Apples Jade currently heading the market. A race of this quality is always hard to call the winner but as we always do, we are taking this head on.
The obvious starting point is Apples Jade. Gordon Elliott’s mare is a superstar of National Hunt racing. A Cheltenham Festival winner, multiple Grade 1 winner and over 500k in winnings already to her name, she will be hard to beat.
She’s been in sparkling form this season winning but hasn’t won over two miles since April 2016 and connections believe she needs a trip. I tend to agree with this theory, she is a classy mare that gallops and hurdles well but she might not have the turn of foot to be winning a contest of this nature. No surprise if she proves me wrong but I’ll let her run without my money on this occasion.
Supasundae is lining up as the defending champion having won well here last year. He has been a brilliant servant for connections having been able to win over any trip and any ground. A definite favourite of mine and not one I passed over easily as he always gives everything he has and will gallop all the way to the line however, he might not have the speed on this occasion.
Petit Mouchoir is one at a big price that a lot of people won’t look twice at come Saturday. An excellent hurdler in his own right, he is going under the radar coming back hurling after possibly losing his way a little over fences and I wouldn’t put anyone off having an each way saver bet on the talented grey.
That leads us to our selection Melon. A horse who has had a lot written and said about him, even before we seen him on a racecourse. His second in last year’s Champion Hurdle is his standout piece of form. A thrilling race in which he nearly caused a massive upset finally showed us what this talented youngster is capable of. He stepped at a flight and fell at last year’s Punchestown Festival whilst travelling strongly but if he is back in the kind of form he was in last spring he could go well here.
Last year’s performance here is a worry as he ran no sort of race but the writing was on the wall that day with a dramatic drift in the betting right before the off. He ran a decent prep for this over Christmas, he wrapped the fourth from home nearly unshipping Ruby but gathered himself quickly and ran well. Seemed to get a little tired coming to the last but rallied coming up to the line. His trainers form has been questioned this season but with the unusually dry weather he’s stated that a lot of his needed their first run so my feeling is he really is targeting the festival’s and this is the start of the big price money.
I won’t be shocked if the headline writers are talking about Mullins flying back to form after the weekends racing. Melon should be a lot fitter for this race and there is no other jockey I’d rather have on board for a two mile hurdle race than Ruby Walsh. I believe he is at his best over the minimum distance when decisions have to be made at break neck speed.
Best of luck whatever you’re backing this weekend and keep an eye on out Twitter and Instagram for plenty of tips this weekend.