Don’t know about you, but Don Cossack left me quite chilled after the Kinloch Brae at Thurles on Thursday.
Niggled at by Bryan Cooper down the back straight, he looked to have his work cut out turning in.
Mount Colah is improving and a bit under rated, and seemed to be creeping into contention until making a town halls of the second last.
He lost all momentum there – indeed Noel McParlan did well to keep the partnership intact.
Rubi Light suffered and also lost momentum, though this game veteran front runner may have been starting to back pedal anyway.
Possibly it woke up a virtually sleep walking Don Cossack who put the race to bed in a matter of strides.
In fairness Gordon Elliott did say beforehand that the race came about two weeks too soon.
His jumping stood up well, and there’s little doubt that he prefers better ground now, in sharp contrast to his early career.
Nor have I any fears about Cheltenham for him, though like every horse running at the famed Cotswold circuit he will need to have his jumping spot on.
He hit the deck in the RSA two seasons ago but looked a bit unlucky in the Ryanair last March when meeting traffic problems at a crucial stage.
The track certainly holds no fears for him, but he’ll need to step up considerably from Thurles last Thursday to have any chance in the Gold Cup.
Of course he’ll strip a lot fitter on the big day, no question, and it would be wrong to even think of writing him off.
But in what looks a red hot renewal, 5/1 looks a very skinny price to me.
*Pricewise has perked up nicely in recent weeks after a relatively long barren spell by his high standards.
Predictably the bookies cut the odds on Vroum Vroum Mag for the World Hurdle after he recommended her in Wednesday’s Racing Post.
I’d be very cautious about steaming in to back her.
She has only raced against mares, and always seemingly on soft to heavy ground which Ruby Walsh maintains she needs.
A brilliant chaser for sure, but she is very unproven over hurdles, particularly for a race at this level.
She has in fact only raced twice over the minor obstacles.
She was beaten four lengths when second to Visionice at Auteuil.
That was a perfectly respectable debut effort on her only outing in France in what proved the only defeat she has suffered so far.
Her only other spin over hurdles was her 1/16 victory at Clonmel last time out.
Since joining Willie Mullins she has notably been kept on the provincial circuit.
She won a Grade 2 Mares Chase at the Easter Festival at Fairyhouse last April.
Otherwise she has raced at Wexford, Cork, Thurles, Limerick and twice at Clonmel.
It is somewhat surprising that for a potential Willie Mullins star she has never appeared at Leopardstown or Punchestown.
All that said though her record is superb, and seven out of seven for Mullins brooks no argument.
In mares races over fences on heavy ground she is clearly a mighty, mighty formidable foe.
And perhaps the reason that she raced at relatively modest venues was because she was not exactly setting the gallops alight back home at Closutton.
No shame in that for neither do Don Poli or the highly promising bumper mare Augusta Kate.
All clearly keep their best for the racecourse, a smart choice if ever there was one.
Yet the World Hurdle is a real grueller, it takes no prisoners.
And it is certainly not a race for mares – even illustrious stablemate Annie Power tasted defeat there.
And even for Voler la Vedette, a superb mare who won the Hattons Grace and ran Quevega close at Punchestown, it proved a bridge too far.
She was enjoying a glorious Indian summer to her career when sent to the race in 2012.
There she ran an absolute blinder giving Big Buck’s plenty to think about before going down by a length and a half.
Yet that basically proved her Last Hurrah at top level.
She disappointed in three races the following season before Colm Murphy finally pulled stumps.
Many felt that the all out battle with Big Buck’s finally drew the sting of that wonderfully tough and consistent mare.
Probably so – and I was the first to suggest it in print even before she was retired – but it’s equally possible that the race itself took it’s toll too.
Nor is the World Hurdle in anyway kind to raiders from across the Irish Sea, with the Charles Byrnes trained Solwit in 2012 the only Irish winner in the last 17 years.
With great respect to Pricewise, I think I’ll pass on this one.
Ante post tip
Cross Country Chase, Cheltenham – Dogora 2 pts. each way 16/1 Ladbrokes
Despite it being a somewhat restricted week with meetings called off, it was still a very profitable one for my followers on BetKudos with Nearly Nama’d 5/1 (won 4/1); Missypet 50/1 each way (second 16/1); Mystique 7/4; Coolnagorna Giggs 13/2 (w 5/1) and Westend Star 15/8 (w 4/5).
I was also on target with the sole UK tip Little Stampy 3/1 (w 2/1).
Back next Saturday.
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