By Luke Keena(@lukekeena1)
After the racing extravaganza that is St Stephens Day, another big day of racing is in store on Monday. Between Kempton, Leopardstown, Limerick and Chepstow I have five selections to keep an eye on.
The first of those comes at Limerick in the Grade 2 Lyons Of Limerick Jaguar Rover Novice Hurdle off at 2:05. I think Eric Bloodaxe should be able to get the day off to a quick start here. He was a very good bumper horse before having problems for the past few years. He made his hurdles debut back in November and was impressive when winning by eight lengths. He was last seen finishing a well beaten second behind the exciting Gordon Elliot recruit, Ginto. He was six lengths clear of the third who has subsequently come out and won at Thurles. I think he is a talented horse that will take a bit of beating with Bryan Cooper in the saddle.
The next selection runs at Leopardstown in the Paddy Power “I’ve Had More Vaccines Than Nights Out” Handicap Hurdle off at 2:20. I like the Peter Fahey trained runner Surprise Package. He was narrowly denied on his penultimate start by an improving type in I A Connect. He seemed to get slightly outpaced before finishing very strongly, just failing to get up. He was last seen running at Navan last week when traveling very well down the hill at Navan before emptying up the hill over two and a half miles. I think the big field and strong pace to aim at over two miles on a stiffer track like Leopardstown could see him go very close at a double figure price.
The feature race at Chepstow is the Coral Welsh Grand National Handicap Chase off at 2:50. An ultra-competitive renewal made very interesting with the inclusion of past winner Native River in the final field. I like the other Colin Tizzard representative, Elegant Escape. Native River running ensures that there will be a good pace to the race and has kept the weights down for Elegant Escape who now carries 11-2, it also means a few runners are running from out of the handicap. He was given no chance on reappearance when running over two miles at Sandown after a 631-day break. He is now down to a mark only five pounds higher than when he won this race back in 2018. He ran in this race in 2019 and finished sixth having to carry top weight in bottomless ground. He will have his ground and should have a nice pace to aim at and I think he will outrun his odds of 16/1.
Just five minutes later the Paddy Power Chase is due off at Leopardstown. Another big field staying handicap chase and I am going to take a chance on the once top novice chaser, Death Duty. The wheels very much have come off since then with injury keeping him off the track for over two years. I think it is interesting they have persisted with him, and he has not ended up in the horse in training sale at some stage. He did not run a bad race at Cheltenham in 2020 when backed late on into second favourite and followed that up with a decent display behind Bachasson at Clonmel that March. The falling mark is what has drawn me in, he was once rated as highly as 159 over fences, he has rapidly dropped down to a mark of 139. I think there is still a race to be won with him and at 50/1, I am willing to take a chance on him here with Shane Fitzgerald taking off a valuable five pounds.
My final selection of the day runs in the last race at Kempton and is the Nicky Henderson trained runner, Captain Morgs. The form of his three runs this year look very strong. He was last seen finishing second behind Onemorefortheroad at Newbury, the winner has since come out and finished second in a very good handicap hurdle at Ascot. Prior to that Captain Morgs won in gritty fashion at Ascot and the second has since come out and been third in that same race Onemorefortheroad was second in at Ascot this month. First time out this season he was third at Cheltenham behind Guard Your Dreams and Coole Coady, both have since won big races at Cheltenham. I think there is more to come from Captain Morgs off a mark of 131 and he can end the day on a high with Nico De Boinville in the saddle.