The likes of bet365, Betway, Betfred, Boylesports, Ladbrokes and Skybet offering even money about Special Tiara for Kempton’s two mile Desert Orchid Chase (2.20pm) had the look of a late Christmas present overnight, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed with Henry De Bromhead’s charge now generally 10/11 or shorter.
The winner of this race in 2014 and also a dual Grade 1 scorer elsewhere on his CV, Special Tiara has course, track, trip, ground and the weights on his side today, as he bids for a repeat of two years ago.
Principal rival, Sire De Grugy, is a star in his own right, yet he’s rated a pound inferior and has to try and concede 10lbs.
Need any more persuading? Racing is rarely so simply that everything proceeds as smoothly as you hope it will, but even so Special Tiara looks a clear selection to turn these advantageous circumstances into a win today.
Meanwhile, across the pond it’s day two of the big Christmas meeting here at Leopardstown, with the Foxrock venue gearing up for the arrival of Douvan, who is around 1/6 to lead them on a merry dance in the 2m 1f Grade 1 at 1.20pm.
The seven-time Grade 1 winner is 4/7 for the Queen Mother Champion Chase in three months time, and should be a treat for anyone shrugging off their hangover and braving the cold.
Looking for one or two to try and make the day pay?
Special Tiara’s stablemate, Avenir D’Une Vie, certainly looks in interesting at 100/30 in the Grade 1 Future Champions Novice Hurdle at 1.55pm.
Bryan Cooper selects him above the very highly-regarded Peace News, as well as two other Gigginstown runners in the field of eight, and you’d have to say he did look ever so smart on his first run for his new stable at Fairyhouse.
Next up, the two mile handicap hurdle (2.30pm) is about as tricky as you can ever find, even by Irish racing standards, but bone horse for whom I have a real soft spot is John Murphy’s four-year-old, Swamp Fox.
A winner at Galway on the Flat back in the summer and subsequently this in the Irish Cesarewitch, he looked the business when winning over hurdles at Listowel and is fit form a solid third, also over timber, at Naas.
The mount of David Mullins, Swamp Fox is 16/1 each way with loads of firms including Betfred, Coral and Paddy.
Lastly, there’s a monster field of 28 for the three mile Paddy Power Handicap Chase, perhaps not such a surprise when you factor in the mention of €104,500 to the winner!
It’s more than eye-catching to see Ruby Walsh wasting down to just above ten stone to ride The Crafty Butcher on his second outing for Willie Mullins, especially in a race where four of the last five winners went off 7/1 or shorter.
That said, any bookie worth their salt will be paying five places each way, indeed Paddy and Skybet are paying six.
With that in mind, both firms go 33/1 about last year’s third, Folsom Blue, about whom trainer Mouse Morris said yesterday: “Folsom Blue would love a bit of rain but has only got 10st 4lbs and Bryan Cooper has picked so I think he could go really well.”
He looks an each way play for small stakes, as does the Willie Mullins inmate Sabremont, a 20/1 shot who was going really nicely when brought down in the Troytown at Navan.
Today’s best bets:
1.55 – Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle – 1 Avenir D’Une Vie (win) @ 100/30 (bet365, Betfred, BetVictor, Boylesports or Ladbrokes)
2.20 Kempton – Desert Orchid Chase – 4 Special Tiara (win) @ 10/11 (Hills, Ladbrokes or Skybet)
2.30 Leopardstown – Paddy Power “You Beauty” Handicap Hurdle – 8 Swamp Fox (each way) @ 16/1 (Betfred, Coral or Paddy)
3.00 Leopardstown – Paddy Power Handicap Chase – 13 Sabremont (each way) @ 20/1 (Skybet or Paddy Power – BOTH SIX PLACES)
3.00 Leopardstown – Paddy Power Handicap Chase – 22 Folsom Blue (each way) @ 33/1 (Skybet or Paddy Power – BOTH SIX PLACES)