By Luke Keena(@lukekeena1)
After one winner and two horses in the placings yesterday, I have five selections to keep in mind for racing in Ireland on Tuesday.
The first of those runs in the Irish Daily Star Christmas Handicap Hurdle off at 12:35 at Leopardstown. I like the Dermot McLoughlin trained runner The Great White. He was an impressive winner in Limerick back in April, getting the better of Definiteadare by eleven lengths. He then backed up quickly at Punchestown when he underperformed, I think that run is easy excusable based on the quick turn around off a career best run. He has since run three times over fences and been placed in two of those events. He has been off since July, and I think that will play to his strengths. His win at Limerick came off the back of a break and I think being fresh will be the key to him. I think he still has the potential to be better than a 106 rated horse over hurdles and I think he will go close at 12/1.
The next race is the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle over three miles, a race that splits opinions due to the structure of the qualifying system for the final at Cheltenham. I was a big fan of Gentlemansgame last year and he is a very interesting runner off top weight, but my selection is Futurum Regem who runs off a very light racing weight. He has won his last two outings and looks to be a progressive type. The first of those wins came at Navan over two miles and six furlongs, winning by a very impressive nine lengths. He was last seen over two and a half miles when he got up in the shadows of the post to win a very competitive handicap. The step up to three miles looks sure to suit judged on his past two races. Neil Ryan has had a fantastic start to his career in racing and claims a very valuable seven pounds here. I think he will go very close at 12/1.
The final selection at Leopardstown comes in the Dornan Engineering Christmas Hurdle off at 1:45. The top two in the market set a high standard but I am going to take them on with Abacadbras. On ratings he has a few pounds to find with a few of his rivals, but I think the step up in trip could see him bridge the gap. He is a renowned strong traveller that may just do enough to get involved here. He was last seen in the Hattons Grace when he finished a distant third behind Honeysuckle, he has shown over the past few years that he needs a run to get up to speed. The form of his Aintree hurdle could hardly be working out any better with many of those who finished in behind coming out and winning. He should be the last horse off the bridle and if he gets the trip, I think he will be bang there at a tempting each way price.
The first of two selections at Limerick runs in the D Pack Packaging Handicap Hurdle off at 2:05. I like the chances of Chenery for now Grade 1 winning jockey Ian Power. She did not run a bad race last time out on her first start over fences. Prior to that she had been running on unsuitable ground and as a result has been falling back down the handicap to just a two-pound higher mark then when last seen winning in March on heavy ground. The ground and trip will be ideal and runs in the first-time blinkers which should sharpen her up. I think she has a great chance and will go very close at 14/1.
The final selection on the day comes in the Tim Duggan Memorial Handicap Chase off at 2:40. I like the Martin Brassil trained runner, Longhouse Poet. He was towards the top of the market for both the National Hunt chase at Cheltenham and the Irish Grand National before being taken out of both due to the ground being too quick as he is thought to be a soft to heavy ground horse, conditions he will get here. This will be his first run in just under a year leaving a question mark over fitness. He was last seen winning his beginners chase at Punchestown getting the better of two subsequent winners of significant staying chases. He was just below top grade as a novice hurdler, and I think he is a better chaser. The drop in trip is a slight concern but the testing conditions should make it a proper test of stamina. I think he will prove to be better than a mark of 145 in these conditions and could take a bit of beating.