Channel 4 Racing presenter Nick Luck gives his thoughts on the opening day of the festival.
I wrote in my column last week that I was edging towards Buveur D’Air
at the prices and, whilst I fear his stable companion Altior, I think there is just enough juice in the ground to tip this in Buveur D’Air’s favour. I walked the course today and, for all that there is a drying wind, it’s not that warm and it should be bang on good to soft for the first race.
Min clearly bears close comparison with the stable’s previous winners of this race and he was breathtaking at Punchestown in January, but I think he faces a better group of horses than his predecessors. I’ve got nothing against Min, I simply believe he might be taking on a couple of top-notchers.
Buveur D’Air - 1pt @ 13/2
I can’t honestly countenance defeat for Douvan but I have a huge soft spot for Sizing John and if the Henderson team ride Vaniteux as they are suggesting, ie they are going to try and pressurise Douvan early, I wonder whether that might enable Sizing John to get a little closer at the finish. It’s clutching at straws I admit, but I will certainly be backing Sizing John
in the ‘Without Douvan’ market.
Sizing John - 1pt @ 9/4
I think it’s probably fair to have a couple of stabs at this. I will firmly be keeping the right side of Carole’s Destrier
who has had a breathing operation since his last win and has been saved specifically for this. It could be a very good week for his trainer Neil Mulholland.
I’ll also take an enormous leap into a very dark abyss by suggesting that Katenko
might be worth a tiny bet. Venetia Williams just has a habit of popping one up in a race like this. This horse is incredibly well handicapped on, admittedly, age-old form and his fragility is such that Venetia is only going to get one shot across the bow with him.
Carol's Destrier - 1pt @ 14/1
There is not a single result in this race that I couldn’t envisage. I would be thrilled if Annie Power could win as I’ve been a huge admirer but, in what is clearly a wacky race, a wacky selection is called for, and, probably against my better judgement, I’m going to stick with Peace And Co
. Let’s be quite clear, he’s been pretty abominable on both starts this season but I get the strong feeling that Nicky Henderson feels he is somewhere near his best after a wind operation and various other remedial measures. I can quite understand why Daryl Jacob felt he had to ride Top Notch, but there is no doubt in my mind which is the more talented of the two horses.
Peace And Co - 1pt @ 25/1
Whilst I’ve been scratching around desperately trying to find a horse to back in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle, this just seems like one to keep simple. Of all the short-price Willie Mullins’ horses, I think Vroum Vroum Mag
represents the best value.
Vroum Vroum Mag - 1pt @ 11/10
This looks a strong renewal of the four-miler. Minella Rocco surpassed expectations at Ascot and could yet improve further while Noble Endeavor and Native River are others to factor into consideration. All that said, this could be another one for Willie Mullins as Pont Alexandre
might finally have his day in the sun. I’ve long believed that he is an out-and-out stayer and this looks exactly the right spot for him.
Pont Alexandre - 1pt @ 9/1
I’m going to take a couple in this. Amore Alato
, from the underrated yard of Johnny Farrelly, travelled like a pretty good horse for a long way behind Silviniaco Conti but his two most recent runs have probably tested his stamina a touch too much. A fast run race on a quicker surface here should suit and he’s got bits of form that make me think he’s better than this grade.
Emma Lavelle has had a winter to forget but she had a winner at Sandown on Saturday and Javert
was one of the most impressive handicap winners of the season at Doncaster. I think they were lucky to get away with a 9lb rise.
Amore Alato - 1pt @ 22/1