Our resident pundit has four decent-priced bets from Exeter and Punchestown.
MORGA (best price 5-1) arrives here in terrific shape courtesy of several solid performances of late under both codes and given her current wellbeing, she should improve significantly on her sixth position in this race last season. Runner-up in a listed race at Galway on the Flat back in September, Desmond McDonogh’s inmate did nothing wrong on her return visit to the same track when filling out the same spot behind in-form Copy That back over hurdles, and having also just finished behind subsequent Ebor winner Heartbreak City earlier in the campaign, her overall form stacks up nicely in context of this race.
The signs are encouraging that Jackie Du Plessis’ yard is just beginning to come to hand and that augurs well for the chances of CAILLEACH ANNIE (best price 7-1) in this competitive-looking handicap chase. A former point-to-point winner, the daughter of Blueprint ran some fine races over hurdles last season, none more so than when third to Jessber’s Dream and runner-up to Vieux Lille over today’s course on heavy ground. Beginning life over fences off a handy mark, the seven-year-old mare ran a promising first race in her new discipline when a keeping-on fourth at Chepstow 26 days ago, and with that run sure to have done her good, she can go well returning to the scene of some of her best performances.
NAMBOUR (NAP) (best price 10-3) landed what was a very decent beginners chase at Galway on his debut over fences and he looks ready to take the step up in class in his stride based on his performance at Ballybrit. Having his first start for his new yard since leaving Willie Mullins, the son of Sholokhov impressed by the way he jumped during the 2m 6f journey 20 days ago and staying on strongly in the latter stages, he had plenty left in the tank to see off two useful sorts in the shape of Free Expression and A Genie In A Bottle. Built like a proper old-fashioned chaser, he’s in the care of a handler who simply doesn’t deal with size 10’s, and with stamina very much his key asset, hopefully plenty of use will be made of Mouse Morris’ charge this afternoon.
VIEUX LILLE (best price 15-2) didn’t quite live up to expectations on chasing debut at Chepstow 42 days ago, but there’s a decent chance he will leave that run behind now he gets the opportunity to race around a track that has served him well in the past. On reflection, Philip Hobbs’ charge might have found the ground on the lively side at the Welsh track first time out, so there should be no excuses on account of underfoot conditions this time around. 3-3 over hurdles around today’s circuit here last year, the son of Robin Des Champs also proved he stays three miles well on the third of those starts and with the dead eight runners set to go to post, he rates a decent each-way bet at his top morning quotes.