2pt win Thedevilscoachman in the 2.50 Fairyhouse at 9/4
1.5pts each-way Gabynako in the 3.50 Fairyhouse at 6/1
1.5pt win Andy Dufresne in the 5.00 Fairyhouse at 4/1
THEDEVILSCOACHMAN ran out a ready winner in Listed company at Punchestown in February and arrives here fresh after sidestepping the Cheltenham Festival last month.
It’s easy to crab the form of that Punchestown contest as it was a slowly run affair in which he picked-up best of all. However, he successfully conceded weight to all but one of his rivals and his penultimate outing at Navan was a truly run contest, and that also resulted in an impressive success.
Thedevilscoachmen was pushed clear of previous scorers Visionarian and Riviere D’etel, whom received 5lbs and 11lbs respectively, at Navan and has only tasted defeat once in five career starts – when placing fifth behind runaway Supreme Novices’ Hurdle scorer Appreciate It in Grade 1 company at Christmas.
He was keen in the early stages of that Leopardstown contest and appeared to get lit-up after making a slight mistake when jumping the first hurdle down the back, therefore he expended plenty of energy in the early and indeed middle parts of the race, which perhaps explains why he couldn’t make up his ground when the race began in earnest. And it’s fair to say that he wasn’t given a hard time when his chance was gone.
The form of Thedevilscoachman’s easy maiden success at Cork was rubber-stamped when the runner-up went one place better next time out, and I was very taken by his slick hurdling and swift turn of foot off a strong gallop at Navan – which bodes well given the likely pace tomorrow.
Thedevilscoachman won a bumper on good to yielding ground and Mark Walsh has been in the saddle for his last three starts and clearly gets on with him well, which is obviously advantageous.
Held in high regard by Noel Meade, Thedevilscoachman is clearly improving at a rate of knots and was expected to run well in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last month. Therefore he must go close in this Grade 2 contest.
February’s Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle is working out very week indeed as the winner, Bob Olinger, bolted-up in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle last month and the runner-up, Blue Lord, would have been a good second in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle had he not fallen at the final flight of hurdles. GABYNAKO was the third home on that occasion, and he could easily play a big role in this Grade 2 contest.
Gavin Cromwell’s six-year-old was sent off a well supported 9/2 shot for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle last month, however, he failed to make it further than the first flight of hurdles where he was badly hampered and unseated his jockey.
Narrowly defeated by Eskylane and then Fakiera on his first two starts over hurdles, Gabynako ran out a ready winner at Naas in November and again ran well when chasing home Ashdale Bob and old adversary Fakiera in Grade 2 company at Navan in December, which is another piece of solid graded form.
This two-and-a-half-mile trip looks ideal and his runner-up effort behind the aforementioned Eskylane was achieved on yielding ground, therefore conditions should not pose a problem.
Gentlemangame, whom looks a staying chaser in the making, and Grand Paradis, whom arrives in search of a hat-trick, command plenty of respect. However, Gabynako has plenty of solid form in the book and Gavin Cromwell, whom saddled the Stayers Hurdle and Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle winners at Cheltenham last month, has his string in fine form at present, therefore Gabynako makes significant each-way appeal.
The Grade 1 Underwriting Exchange Gold Cup Novice Chase perhaps looks more solid than spectacular as neither Envoi Allen nor Monkfish were declared on Friday.
Asterion Forlonge should enjoy going right-handed and arrives on the back of a solid third placed effort in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham last month. However, that was a strongly run race following the departure of Envoi Allen and Harry Skelton’s injection of pace on Shan Blue, and he’s only had 17 days to recover from that effort.
Grade 1 winner Franco De Port was taken off his feet in the Arkle when failing to beat a single rival home, and Conflated looks much more at home on left-handed tracks. While Scarlet And Dove was running well against Cheltenham Festival winners Colreevy and Mount Ida prior to falling in January and has won both of her subsequent starts. However, this contest will naturally demand much more.
That leaves ANDY DUFRESNE, whom finished one place ahead of Asterion Forlonges when placing third in the Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival in February, and tomorrow’s slight drop in trip (1.5f shorter) and better ground should be in his favour.
The JP McManus owned seven-year-old scored at this trip over hurdles before bumping into subsequent Grade 1 winner Latest Exhibition in Grade 2 company at Navan. He demonstrated his gears when defeating the classy Captain Guinness in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown in January 2020, and he has continued to progress since sent over fences, defeating subsequent scorer Exit Poll on his chasing debut at Wexford, before comfortably defeating Grand Annual favourite Embittered at Navan in December.
The smart son of Doyen will arrive here fresh and has scope for improvement both in this sphere and over this trip. His form looks solid and his price is fair, he is therefore worthy of support.