Last weekend was quiet, due to the weather unfortunately, but that is how the game goes at times.
It looks like a great week of racing ahead, and it all kicks off with the brilliant card at Gowran Park on Thursday.
It’s a great card with Sir Gerhard making his reappearance, while there is also an interesting field in the Galmoy, but the big one - the Thyestes Chase - is always a fascinating renewal.
According to the markets, Impervious’ biggest challenger in the Mares' Chase at the 2023 Cheltenham Festival is Allegorie De Vassy and she won well at Thurles on Sunday.
She really has an incredible engine and is clearly very talented. While the field wasn’t exactly top class, she won with a degree of authority and deserves the utmost respect for Willie and Susannah Ricci.
Saying this though, Impervious has had 50% more runs over fences which might make a difference, and while Allegorie has been impressive, she hasn’t had to race over the last few fences as she has been winning so easily.
Looking at a lot of the rhetoric though, is around this being a two-horse race, and I don’t fully think it is. The likes of Elimay, Zambella and Scarlet And Dove have every chance as they’re top class mares too.
It’s boiling up to be a great division this year, and Impervious more than deserves her place vying for favouritism.
On Tuesday, the entries for the 2023 Novice Hurdlers were out, and they didn’t let anyone down. The fields look as enticing as ever.
I have heard a few people knock his form, and I won’t win any originality prizes for picking him, but I think Facile Vega is a very strong favourite here, and will take a lot of beating.
In my opinion, he has been trained with one day in mind, and everything he has done so far has been a bonus. Willie Mullins will now begin to turn the screw properly with him, and we could see something very special in March. Willie said himself after Facile’s first win over hurdles on TV, that it is only every few years you see one as good as him. That’s enough for me to be convinced with a genius like him saying that.
Saying all that, Marine National is a very good horse and will make him think about things. I just think he may, unfortunately for connections, be bumping into something very special.
In the Ballymore, Dark Raven at 33/1 is very interesting in my opinion. I put him up as one of the horses to follow over Christmas, and he didn’t let the side down with a comfortable win. I think he will improve for that effort, and is weirdly a bit of a forgotten horse in the division.
I like his work at Closutton, he was very good on debut, and he is just too big at 33/1 for a Ballymore.
The Albert Bartlett as always, is a very tough division at this point, but I am happy to stick with Shanbally Kid. I rode him to win a schooling race a few weeks back, and I was impressed by him, so much so that I put him up on this blog as one to follow.
He needed his first run at Limerick, and definitely improved for it, as he powered to win well at Navan. That was over 2 miles & 4 furlongs, but he showed that he would definitely benefit from stepping up. The new course will suit him as they don’t jump many at the end of that contest, as the hurdles at times did seem to be getting in his way. He’s another one who might be a big at 25/1 for the 2023 Albert Bartlett.
Another one in this division to keep an eye on, is Corbetts Cross who has improved a lot this season, and now changes to the Emmett Mullins yard. It’s very hard to know where his improvement could end.