12:30 Poplar Square Chase Grade 3
The Poplar Square Chase sees the return of the brilliant Footpad, last season’s Arkle winner.
Footpad was a high quality hurdler and finished 3rd in the Triumph Hurdle and fourth in the Champion Hurdle, but has taken to fences like a duck to water.
His performances at Cheltenham and Punchestown were absolutely superb and he jumped, as the saying goes, like a stag.
He is currently second favourite, behind Altior, in the betting for the Champion Chase and you would have to say that it would be a massive disappointment if he was to lose today.
Hopefully Footpad can put in an impressive display today and build the excitement towards the possible mouthwatering clash with Altior at Prestbury Park in March.
However a lot of things can go right or wrong in the interim so let’s keep our fingers crossed that both make it to Cheltenham.
Saint Calvados looks the only horse in the field capable of giving Footpad some kind of race.
Saint Calvados was well behind Footpad in the Arkle and I doubt he is capable of beating Footpad.
This is a race to savour and looks the perfect starting point for Footpad’s season.
1:05 Fishery Lane Hurdle Grade 3
The Willie Mullins trained Saldier is my NAP of the day. I was very impressed with him at Punchestown where he be Mr Adjudicator by 3 lengths.
In recent stable tours Willie Mullins has spoken very highly of the horse and even mentioned the possibility of him being a Champion Hurdle contender.
I think Mr Adjudicator is going to suffer the ‘curse of the Triumph hurdle horse’ as I like to call it.
He is a son of Comancho and I doubt he will improve too much this season. We may have seen the best of him last year due to his flat breeding.
Espoir D’allen was a horse I really liked and he beat Mr adjudicator at Christmas, unfortunately he’s had his setbacks. It would be nice to see a return to form by him.
It looks to be between the first three in the market and I’m with Saldier on the basis that he has the most scope for improvement.
2:50 Brown Lad Handicap Hurdle
This is a predictably tricky contest and JP McManus runs five, I think it might be best to focus on his runners in order to find the winner.
Air supremacy is the one I most like the look of in JP’s contingent. By putting a line through his last run he remains interesting on an opening mark of 128.
This son of Galileo beat a nice horse of Willie Mullins’ called Easy Game at Listowel on heavy ground over the today’s trip.
I think a reproduction of that form would see him going very close today and he looks a good each way prospect.
Plinth ran very good race behind Bedrock at Tipperary and as we know that form has been bolstered since. The trip is a worry for him and he’s not getting any younger. All his best form is over 2 miles.
De Name Escapes Me is a quality horse but has been disappointing more than once. I expect him to come forward for the run.
3:25 Beginners Chase
Discorama is a horse I really like and I followed him throughout last season.
I couldn’t believe the price he was for the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham. Despite beating Blow By Blow in his maiden hurdle he was three times his price. Discorama ran a great race to be second to Blow By Blow in the Martin Pipe and rewarded my confidence in him.
I think he could be overpriced again today at around 7 or 8/1. It’s easy to poke holes in the form of Bacardys and Any Second Now.
Bacardys is a woeful jumper and it’s interesting that Ruby Walsh doesn’t take the ride.
Any Second Now was well fancied for the Close Brothers Novices Chase at Cheltenham but was bitterly disappointing.
I’m expecting him to run to a mark of around 135 today and Discorama could be a bit better than that.
Discorama is a son of Saddler Maker and should improve for the switch to fences. I really think he could be a horse to follow for this season.
1:05 Saldier (Nap)
2:50 Air Supremacy (e/w)
3:25 Discorama (e/w)