Mark Howard Publications Ltd

Saturday Review - Saint Davy lands gamble

03-February-2024 17:38
in General
by Admin

It was no surprise to see Willie Mullins dominate the first day of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown winning all four Grade 1 events, although not necessarily with those who lifted the biggest prizes of the day. Galopin Des Champs once again proved he is the best staying chaser on either side of the Irish Sea with a dominant display in the Irish Gold Cup. A four and a half lengths winner from old rival Fastorslow, the Timos gelding stretched away after the last and it is going to take some performance to dethrone him in next month's Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle was the race I was most looking forward to and, whilst it didnt produce the ideal result, there was plenty of encouragement from those who finished behind the winner Kargese. Majborough, who was having his first run for 307 days and first outing for J.P.McManus and Mullins, attempted to make all jumping well but lacking the finishing kick of the winner. He is expected to improve for the outing and the New course at Cheltenham will play more to his strengths. Bunting stayed on in fourth having been set plenty to do and won't be out of place in the Triumph Hurdle next month.

Top 40 entry Saint Davy (4/1) landed a sustained gamble in the valuable staying handicap hurdle at Sandown. Jonjo O'Neill's runner had been raised six pounds for winning at Ludlow last month and, having travelled strongly along the rail, the former Irish pointer found plenty for pressure to edge out Hermino AA by three parts of a length. Unexposed, he wants some ease in the ground and should make a fine staying chaser one day.

Earlier on the card, Peking Opera, who was highlighted as a horse to follow in the Christmas Special, made a winning start to his hurdles career when taking advantage of a healthy age allowance in the opening novice hurdle. A high-class performer on the Flat for Aidan O'Brien, the Galileo gelding jumped well and saw off the sustained challenge of The Good Doctor in receipt of seventeen pounds. The Grade 2 Adonis Hurdle at Kempton (24th February) is expected to be next and he could be ideal for the Grade 1 Anniversary Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree. 

Jingko Blue (16/5) is one of Declan Phelan's Irish Pointers and the Newbury winner produced a good weight carrying performance under 12st in the two and a half miles novices' handicap hurdle. Indeed, the Great Pretender gelding looked a well handicapped youngster skipping away after the last to score by six lengths off an opening rating of 124. Trained by Nicky Henderson, he is a smashing long-term prospect and one to look forward to over fences next Autumn and beyond.

Finally, commiserations to connections of Hermes Allen who suffered a fatal injury when crashing out at the second last in the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase. A Grade 1 winning hurdler last, it was a tough day at the office for the champion trainer.


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