Harvey Mayson's horse racing tips for Saturday's racing at Gowran Park.
1.25 Philip Ireland Tyres Maiden Hurdle
Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell team up with Edene D’arc, a consistent mare by Maresca Sorrento. She has been placed in her last two races over hurdles at Clonmel, most recently finishing a length and a half third to Annie Odds last month.
The likely favourite is Tony Martin’s At The Acorn, a five-year-old gelding by Gold Well. He made a promising debut over hurdles when third to Éclair De Beaufeu at Limerick in December. Drop The Anchor carries the famous JP McManus colours and should improve on his remote fourth to Emily Moon at Naas last time out. Stephenstown races in the same colours and went into several notebooks when staying on late at Fairyhouse in January. He was a 66-1 shot that day but will start a lot shorter on Saturday.
Tip: AT THE ACORN
1.55 BetVictor Maiden Hurdle
Willie Mullins has set a poser here by declaring both Vent D’automne and Voix Des Tiep. The former won a National Hunt Flat race at Ballinrobe in heavy ground, wearing down Castlebrook to win by half a length. Voix Des Tiep showed promise in bumpers last season and has been runner-up in both starts over hurdles. He was narrowly beaten by Small Farm at Limerick before chasing home The Big Dog at Gowran Park in January.
Joseph O’Brien saddles The Gunner Murphy, a six-year-old gelding by Oscar. He almost defied a 240-day absence when second to Gallant John Joe at Punchestown over two and three-quarter miles. He drops back to two miles here with Mark Walsh in the saddle. Castello Sforza was formerly trained by Willie Mullins and now makes his debut for the Padraig Roche stable. He was quietly fancied for the Martin Pipe Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival two years’ ago and ran better than the form suggests. A bad mistake cost him a winning chance at Galway next time and Jody McGarvey takes the reins.
Tip: VENT D’AUTOMNE
2.30 Xenon Security Handicap Hurdle (Div I)
This very competitive handicap has split into two divisions. Ask David and Father Jed are the two with recent form in the book. Ask David beat sixteen rivals over this trip at Punchestown and is up 8lbs as a result. He had previously finished a length and three-quarters behind Father Jed at Fairyhouse. The two meet on identical terms on Saturday.
Father Jed was beaten 8 lengths by Emily Square under a 5lbs penalty at Fairyhouse next time but the winner has been well beaten twice since. The best of the rest could be Soul Season, despite his advancing years. The thirteen-year-old has presumably had his training problems and has very few miles on the clock.
Tip: ASK DAVID
3.05 Xenon Security Handicap Hurdle (Div II)
Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy look the combination to beat here with From Eden, a grey son of Paddy O’Prado. He only joined the stable in February and was heavily backed to make a winning start at Navan last week. He had to work hard to get the better of Mount Pelier and makes a quick reappearance off a 7lbs higher mark.
There are some very long names in opposition to keep the commentator busy! Thereisnodoubt won impressively at Clonmel at January but was beaten after an 11lbs hike in the weights at Naas. Life Isfor Living ran an encouraging race after a 241-day absence when third at Limerick in December. Iknowwhereiamnow has been placed at Punchestown and Navan this year and remains on a decent handicap mark.
Tip: FROM EDEN
3.40 Holden Plant Rentals Shamrock Handicap Chase
Ex-Patriot is the likely favourite here, trained by Miss Ellmarie Holden. The son of Elusive Pimpernel beat Benruben by a length at Thurles last month on good ground. That followed decent efforts at Naas and here at Gowran Park. Willie Mullins saddles Dolciano Dici who finished over thirty lengths behind Ex-Patriot at Thurles. His jumping let him down badly that day and Paul Townend takes the ride.
Top weight Doctor Phoenix will be known to British racing fans for his time with David Dennis. He is now with Gordon Elliott and has been competing regularly in Grade 1 and Grade 2 races. He ran well behind Cadmium at Naas last time and is not out of this, despite his big weight.
Tip: DOCTOR PHOENIX
4.15 Irish Machinery Auctions Beginners Chase
Willie Mullins is responsible for three runners here with Allblak Des Places, Burrows Saint and Catwells. Burrows Saint was a moderate fourth to Duc Des Genievres here last month and was third in a Grade 1 Hurdle at Punchestown last year. Catwells was the winner of a hurdle in France in 2016 and has not raced since. The son of Irish Wells could be anything so the market may be the best guide to their respective chances.
Minella Fair was a wide margin winner over hurdles at Clonmel just over a year ago for Noel Meade. That followed a fair third to Uradel at Naas so he must be respected, despite a 354-day absence.
Tip: MINELLA FAIR
4.50 Tetratema Cup Hunters Chase
Sizing Coal races in the familiar Potts colours and comes here fit and well after a 7 lengths win at Farmaclaffley point-to-point. He started favourite for the Midlands National in 2016 and fell in the Becher Chase at Aintree the same year.
Salsify needs no introduction, the winner of the 2012 and 2013 Foxhunters’ Chase at Cheltenham. He was 11 lengths behind Sizing Coal at Fairyhouse last year and was last seen filling the same spot behind Ucello Conti at Navan. The consistent Fenno’s Storm was beaten a length and a half by Macs Legend at Kildorrery recently but is 8lbs better off and will wear a visor for the first time.
Tip: SIZING COAL
5.25 Ballyhale Shamrocks Point-to-Point INH Flat Race
The meeting closes out with a two and a quarter-mile bumper. Minella Melody looks the likely favourite here for Henry De Bromhead. The mare won at Boulta in a point-to-point and the third horse has already gone on to win a bumper.
Joseph O’Brien’s Miss Pernickety has similar claims after finishing third to Nell’s Well at the same course. The runner-up Elk Bridge has won come out and won a bumper at Clonmel since. De Bromhead also runs Full Time Score, a five-year-old gelding by Flemensfirth. He started odds-on a Knockanard but was no match for easy winner Shadow Rider.
Saint Benedict unseated his rider when still holding every chance last time and is a half-brother to a Grade 1 winner. Carrigmoorna Pine was always going comfortably when winning at Kilfeacle and is another to consider in an interesting race.
Tip: MINELLA MELODY