Rated 109 on the Flat and third behind Stradivarius in Group 2 company at Ascot last October, Sir Erec made it two wins from two starts over timber when routing six opponents in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown. Joseph O'Brien's charge had been workmanlike in victory over the same course and distance at Christmas but never looked like relinquishing his lead on this occasion. The Camelot gelding much more slickly making all under Mark Walsh. Shaken up after the final flight, he readily pulled away to win hard held by half a dozen lengths. Advised in the Christmas Special at 20/1, prior to his jumping bow, he is now as short as 5/2 for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham next month. The twenty five year old has a strangehold on the race at present with Fakir D'Oudairies winning the Finesse Hurdle at Prestbury Park at the end of last month. I will take a very good juvenile to prevent Sir Erec making it three out of three next month.
I must confess to being disappointed with Vision D'Honneur's run in the Grade 1 two miles novice. Gordon Elliott's gelding was kept wide throughout (rather like Envoi Allen on Saturday) but held every chance after the second last. However, the five year old couldn't match Willie Mullins' pair Klassical Dream and Aramon and was beaten fair and square. Six lengths in arrears, it was Klassical Dream who followed up in his win at Christmas. He is featured in the French Revolution section of One Jump Ahead. On this evidence, Vision D'Honneur needs further in the highest company.
Warren Greatrex's stable star La Bague Au Roi made it four wins from four runs over fences and her second Grade 1 victory in the two miles five novices' chase. Once again, the eight year old jumped tremendously before battling on well to win by a length and a quarter. The eyecatcher of the race though was runner-up Kaiser Black. Highlighted on page 154 of OJA, Pat Doyle's gelding was having his first run for 236 days and was sent off 33/1. Given a patient ride over an inadequate trip, the eight year old stayed on strongly. Rated 147, he relishes decent ground and is reportedly being trained for the Irish National at Easter. Still lightly raced over fences, he is improving at a rate of knots and more than capable of bagging a big prize between now and the end of the season. I wish the Germany gelding had been entered at Aintree - perhaps he will be next season. Davy Russell must be itching to get back on board the Mayo and Connacht National winner.
Dallas Des Pictons was featured on page 15 of the February Update (advised at 16/1) as a likely type for the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle and Gordon Elliott's ex-French gelding made the most of an opening mark of 130 in the three miles handicap hurdle. The six year old has improved with every start for Elliott and also appreciated a step up in trip. A ten lengths winner over two and a half miles at Punchestown last month, he had no trouble staying this extra four furlongs. A neck winner, he is now as short as 8/1 for the conditional jockeys' event at the Festival, a race his stable have won the last two renewals, thanks to Champagne Classic (2017) and Blow By Blow (2018).
With the Dublin Racing Festival now done and dusted, its time to turn my attentions to Ahead On The Flat and organising interviews for the Talking Trainers section.........
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