THE annual Shabra Charity preview night brought us again to the Glencarn Hotel, where the panel was under the starter’s orders of Des Scahill.
Paul Townend kicked off the Supreme Novices’ discussions after we saw Aramon and Klassical Dream at Leopardstown.
There was very little between them, Townend said, with Aramon improving all year and Klassical Dream not yet committed to this race. The latter has a lot of experience in France and might not have that much improvement in him. He couldn’t have the four-year-old Fakir D’Oudairies in this race at all. He also felt Angel’s Breath open to improvement and in the right hands with Nicky Henderson.
Shark Hanlon is not one to hold back and has no time for Angel’s Breath – going back to his point-to-point – the second is only rated 84 now! He likes Fakir, thinks the Supreme is a good move and he could be the nap of the meeting.
Anthony McCann would like to have Al Dancer – to go round Dundalk! Jonathan Moore is also a Fakir fan – with the four-year-old allowance making a difference.
Will Reilly of the evening’s sponsors BarOne Racing, can’t see Angel’s Breath winning with Grand Sancy over-priced (12/1). Will is good on the stats – the last British-trained favourite to win was Forest Sun in 1990, though Irish favourites are often beaten by their lesser fancied rivals.
On to the Arkle and Paul Townend is not convinced on Duc De Genievres over the shorter trip and was impressed by Lalor’s November win at the track. Shark Hanlon also would love to see Lalor win for his trainer, and felt the Irish were not good enough.
Jonathan Moore offers a different option – Glen Forsa is a good thing – nothing will catch him. Will Reilly believes Cheltenham form is important and throws in Mengli Khan on his run last year.
To the eagerly awaited Champion Hurdle and of the Mullins runners, Townend says Melon hasn’t fired this year, the ground will play a part for Sharjah and it is a massive step up for Laurina, though she has a huge engine. He fears Buveur D’Air if he is firing, he will have too much pace.
Shark doesn’t fancy the reigning champion, nor Laurina. Apple’s Jade is a certainty. Anthony McCann is in the same field, but Jonathan Moore sides with the title holder – Buveur is the one to beat with Henderson the man for the big day. Will Reilly is an Apple’s Jade fan too and thinks Espoir D’Allen is one under the radar.
The Mares’ Hurdle throws up the Mullins good thing – Benie Des Dieux. Mia’s Storm is offered each-way by Jonathan Moore. Ballyward is reported to have schooled well by Townend, while Minella Rocco in the Ultima is also offered to complete day one.
The Ballymore discussion centres on Champ, Battleoverdoyen and City Island. Shark just loves looking at Battleoverdoyen, he needs cut but “he’ll do for me”. Will Reilly rules out Champ, seven-year-olds don’t win it!
Delta Work gets all the thumbs up in the RSA Chase. “class”, “bet of the week”, “love everything about him”. He even ticks Will’s stats box. Reilly offers The Worlds End (20/1), with track form, as an each-way bet.
Altior is introduced as the “Winx of National Hunt racing,” by Dessie. There’s still no word on whether it’s Min or Footpad to take him on though. McCann offers a sneaky jibe - the only way Altior get beat is if someone put him out through the wing! Moore give Footpad a chance if he was in the form of last year. Other Wednesday fancies are from Des Scahill for the Nicholls-trained Friend Or Foe in the juvenile handicap.
Townend is not sure how good Blue Sari is, but Johnny Moore puts in a good word for Master Debonair, whom Puppy Power said did “an incredible bit of work” last week. Four-year-olds have a poor record so Will warns against Blue Sari. Nicholls’ Ask For Glory is mentioned and we have a bit of banter about Nicholls getting his flu jabs right – someone else on the panel gets his jabs done on time too!
Thursday begins with the JLT – Townend thinks Defi Du Seuil will again beat Lostintranslation. From his own yard, Real Steel has loads of ability but maybe better right-handed. Defi is the choice of Moore also. Townend admits you have to take Monalee seriously in the Ryanair. Shark is of the same mind – if they let Rachael ride him. He jumped and travelled better for her the last day.
Money for Faugheen has been a feature of recent weeks for the Stayers. It was also hard to see anything wrong with Paisley Park, Aidan Coleman is “mad about” him. Shark thinks Faugheen at his best, will run over Paisley! Supasundae is Jonathan Moore’s “Mr Consistency” and can’t be ruled out. Will offers Faugheen caution – only one 11-year-old has won in 40-odd years.
Thursday runners mentioned were Honeysuckle and Posh Trish for the Mares’ Novice, Shark is sweet on the Nicholls mare, he trained her to win her point and “got a few pound for her!” Apparently she got her name after the wife of a prominent National Hunt owner! Nicholls, he says believes that if he has a mare that could win the Gold Cup, it’s Posh Trish.
First Assignment from the Ian Williams yard is given the nod in the Pertemps by Moore, on his early season form and he also likes Measureofmydreams.
By Friday, the panel were unanimous – “certainty; certainty; Irish banker”. It’s Sir Erec all the way
Townend likes Allaho’s chance in the Albert Barlett, while Relegate needs to sharpen her jumping. Mouse’s horse, Sams Profile, gets a mention – “good man to get one ready.” Jonathan Moore comes down in favour of Lisnagar Oscar, the race often goes to a horse with plenty of runs.
So to the Gold Cup. Pat Kelly is putting himself to the test, Dessie thinks by the unorthodox preparation of the likely favourite Persenting Percy. “If he’s good enough, he’ll win,” says Townend.
Clan Des Obeaux has improved everytime we’ve seen him, while Anibale Fly will be trained for one day. Of the Mullins horses, Townend thinks Kemboy has improve and improved but stamina is a doubt while Al Boum Photo also needs to improve. The wisest words of the night are spoken - “the ground on Friday will decide”.
Shark’s not backing Willie to break his Gold Cup hoodoo this year. “Willie will need better horses - the ones he has here have no chance.” Moore thinks Davy Russell will make no mistakes on Presenting Percy but like the upward curve horses - Clan Des Obeaux and Kemboy. He also gives Bristol De Mai a mention at 33/1.