Willie Mullins has cast a long shadow over Channel 4 Racing’s Saturday broadcasts this season and he is expected to land two more big prizes at Warwick and Newbury in its latest edition.
A Mullins raider who’s not only not an odds-on favourite, but not even favourite?
Do not adjust your set. First-time headgear is applied to a mare who is 6lb clear of these on official ratings despite being below her best the last twice.
Her trainer knows what it takes to carry this contest having landed the last two runnings with Glen’s Melody.
At first glance Ballynagour looks highly intriguing, being rated 1lb better than any of his rivals (159), yet receiving 6lb in weight from next best Rocky Creek.
However, a record of two wins in 12 UK and Ireland outings, both coming at 2m4f or shorter makes him one to serve in a 3m contest such as this.
Rocky Creek is bidding to become the fifth favourite to win the Denman Chase in the last nine runnings and the return to a smaller field can aid him in putting being pulled up in three of his last five starts behind him.
During his career Paul Nicholls’ ten-year-old has only finished as badly as third in eight runs in contests of nine runners or less.
Unbeaten in February in two past outings, one of which saw him best the re-opposing Houblon Des Obeaux, it seems this is his favourite time of year.
Richard Johnson made the correct call in picking between the first two horses in the ante-post betting for the Paddy Power Gold Cup earlier this season, plumping for Village Vic over his governor Phillp Hobbs’ other entrant Champagne West.
Barry Geraghty had a similar decision to make ahead of the Betfair Hurdle, expect his boss JP McManus had four entrants, two of whom, Blazer and Modus are now first and second favourite for the Newbury handicap hurdle.
Turning down the latter, a course and distance scorer unbeaten in two runs on soft going and placed in both the Cheltenham and Punchestown Champion Bumpers last term, for the unexposed Blazer is sizeable hint as to his potential.
Running under a penalty for a facile 5l win on his UK and Ireland hurdles bow seven days ago, he’s clearly thought to have plenty in hand on his handicap mark.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date published