Leopardstown Preview, 01/02/20

Leopardstown
Saturday February 1st

Leopardstown 2.35
Matheson Handicap Chase Grade B 0-150
2m – Going: Yielding to Soft – 16 runners

Duca De Thaix
Not at his best at the minute having paid in the weights for his two wins at Fairyhouse last season, although his run behind Avenir D’Une Vie in November in the latest renewal of the Grade B handicap there wasn’t bad, chased leader 4 out, pushed along home turn, outpaced after 2 out, carried head awkwardly, left distant 2nd last, no more, faded and relegated to 3rd final strides. Much worse though in Dan & Joan Moore Memorial at Fairyhouse last time though, pushed along from 4 out, weakening when mistake 3 out, no more, tailed off behind Charlie Stout. Little expected
Paloma Blue
Often makes mistakes; won a beginners’ at Leopardstown last season. Good run two starts ago behind Getabird at Gowran Park in November, sent on before the third last and headed last, stuck to task; not near that behind Riders On the Storm in graduation at Ascot in December next time. Perhaps not staying longer trips, it looks a good call to drop him to the minimum
Avenir D’Une Vie*
Made most to win Grade B handicap at Fairyhouse in November then made a bold bid for a follow-up in Dan & Joan Moore Memorial at Fairyhouse in January next time, tracked leaders approaching 9th, chased leader home turn and moved well, chased Charlie Stout from 2 out, switched, shaken up, 1st 2 clear, was 2 lengths down last, kept on, no impression last 150 yards, stuck to task. Having shown that he doesn’t have to make the running, another good run is likely
Goulane Chosen 
Perhaps not the force of old but did win at Limerick last March. Little recent form in more competitive events, last time in Dan & Joan Moore Memorial at Fairyhouse chased leader, hit 4 out, drew upsides leader when pushed along home turn, ridden and couldn’t go with 1st 2 from 2 out, well held in 3rd when mistake and went right last, tired and weakened run-in, only just held 3rd behind Charlie Stout. Having never won left-handed or in fields bigger than 12, looks vulnerable
Snugsborough Hall 
Best effort last season when winning Grade B handicap chase over 2m at the Punchestown Festival, midfield going comfortably approaching 8th, further good ground after 2 out and tracked leaders going best home turn, led 2 out, not shaken up and went clear approaching last, pushed out run-in, ran on to go further clear, idled last 150 yards when in the clear, readily beat impact Factor. Didn’t shape badly over hurdles at Cork on reappearance behind Morosini and, although the handicapper whacked him with a steep rise after the Punchestown race, he’s still unexposed as a chaser
Eclair De Beaufeu*
Able to dominate when a ready winner of a beginners’ at Wexford in October; in stronger company was some way off that in Grade 3 novice at Navan last time, niggled along from 4 out, pushed along from 3 out, headed when mistake 2 out and weakened, well-held 3rd to Tornado Flyer. Hasn’t yet attained the level of form he reached over hurdles (at this meeting last year ran well in the handicap hurdle and led from the home turn till unseating last in County at the Cheltenham Festival), but doesn’t need to lead and would prefer better ground than it was at Navan
Charlie Stout *
Unexposed as a chaser and was off a career-high mark when winning Dan & Joan Moore Memorial at Fairyhouse last time, midfield, started a move 7th, raced 4th before 9th and moved comfortably, further ground to dispute lead home turn, pushed along approaching 2 out and led a length jumping, ridden, stayed on, put under pressure approaching last, led 2 lengths jumping, ridden out, stayed on well to maintain advantage run-in, workmanlike and decisive from Avenir D’Une Vie. Can go well again
Or Jaune De Somoza
Good win at Listowel in September, always first two, often jumped right, mistake 2 out, stayed on well after last to assert; in a stronger race off a higher mark couldn’t match it at Leopardstown on Boxing Day, definite lead 4 out, niggled along bend before 2 out, hard ridden nearing it and headed, hard driven approaching home turn, weakened, tailed off behind Drumconnor Lad. Limitations exposed there and despite winning at Listowel, doesn’t seem to be suited by going left-handed
Quamino
Won this race last year, staying on from the home turn and gradually reeling in Dakota Moirette, leading run-in. Up a mile in trip, not a factor in Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, well held going to the last behind Roaring Bull. Back to 2m and with this likely to be run to suit, a good run is expected
Debuchet
Best form so far over fences two runs ago at Ascot, made some of the running, not fluent two or three times, effort 2 out, hard ridden, went 2nd last, driven and stayed on run-in, pulled clear of 3rd but no chance with Greaneteen. Was some way off that next time at Cork behind Minella Till Dawn. Not the best of jumpers, likely to do better over this shorter trip
Rock The World
Now 12 and not the force of old, offering little in competitive handicap over this c/d at Christmas, never better than midfield, ridden and beaten from 2 out, looking heavy-legged as he weakened on the run-in behind Drumconnor Lad. Little expected
Ice Cold Soul
Was in the competitive handicap over this c/d at Christmas but didn’t do much, pushed along in rear 7th, looked like tailing off 8th, hopeless home turn, ridden and kept on past a few beaten ones. Up in trip and in a lesser race, won at Thurles in January but didn’t impress, nudged along starting final circuit, niggled along before 3 out, pushed along approaching home turn, steadied into 2 out, hard ridden, put under pressure approaching last, hung right and led nearing it, driven out, was closed on and only just held on from Nobody Home. Down in trip and in a stronger contest, chances negligible
Allardyce
Struggled in the race here at Christmas won by Drumconnor Lad, windy flat-backed jump 6th, lost ground and reminders after 7th, pushed along before 9th, stayed on approaching 2 out, ridden and kept on from home turn, not fluent last, driven and stayed on run-in, took 3rd, no impression on 1st 2. Won next time at Naas in a lesser race (top weight 127) and didn’t impress, ridden after 3 out, hanging left before 2 out, presented with a chance by Everlastingpromise’s mistake, staying on and holding on well as Dasmyhoss closed on him. Flattered by his finishing position here at Christmas, not for me here back up in grade
Niccolai
Modest on balance and her win in a beginners’ at Clonmel in December is the first time I’ve rated her more than 100; not impressive in terms of style marks either, headway before jumped right 4 out and prominent, niggled along after 3 out, pushed along home turn, effort and stayed on approaching 2 out, ridden clear before last, rider lost irons, ridden out, stayed on well, workmanlike and decisive from Touch Of Oscar. Well held at Limerick next time and something to find here
Batcio
Improved performer who won at Clonmel in December before running a good 2nd in the race here at Christmas, prominent 3rd, steadied into 4th, tracked leaders when mistake 8th, moved comfortably before 2 out, niggled along after it, chased winner home turn and put under pressure, stayed on, at most half a length down last and nearly jumped onto Drumconnor Lad’s back, hard driven run-in, 1st 2 pulled clear, no extra final 100 yards. Good chance again
Grand Partner
Without a win since March 2018 and little form in four runs since coming back from a long absence, in competitive handicap over this c/d at Christmas midfield when niggled along/not fluent 5th, mistake 6th and struggling, as-good-as-fell next and pulled up immediately. Little expected

Shortlist: Avenir D’Une Vie, Eclair De Beaufeu, Charlie Stout

Leopardstown 3.10
PCI Irish Champion Hurdle Grade 1
2m – Going: Yielding to Soft – 10 runners

Aramon
Seems to show form only sparingly and didn’t exactly put his all into it in Matheson Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas when last seen, mistake 2nd, relegated to last 4th and pushed along away from it, struggling 5th, closed up under a ride and every chance approaching 2 out as field bunched up, hard ridden and couldn’t go with leaders approaching home turn, weakened, tailed off. He ran similarly badly behind Klassical Dream at Punchestown when last seen last season and seems to dislike racing
Darver Star
Useful novice with no pretensions to being this class judged on 3rd to Envoi Allen in Royal Bond at Fairyhouse on December 1st, prominent, not fluent 5th, nudged along 3 out, niggled along home turn as shuffled back a little, disputing 3rd as pace increased when not clear run approaching 2 out and forced to switch, outpaced, put under pressure, hung right approaching last, took 3rd jumping, ridden, stayed on, no impression on 1st 2, stuck to task. A lot to find
Klassical Dream
Last season’s top 2m novice followed up his win in the Supreme Novices’ at Cheltenham with success in the Punchestown equivalent, 6 lengths up approaching last, in close, ridden out, kept up to his work, stayed on well run-in to maintain clear advantage over Felix Desjy – the only bit of that which wasn’t impressive was the last 300 yards. Reappearance in Matheson Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas but unfortunately the second half of that race wasn’t impressive, jumped big 4th and lost hind legs on landing, struggling 5th, niggled along 3 out, made ground and every chance tracking leader approaching 2 out as field bunched up, ridden and couldn’t go with leaders approaching home turn, eased off when beaten approaching last, allowed to complete in own time, tailed off behind Sharjah. It might not have been the right thing to have asked the horse to get back into the race when potentially feeling discomfort in his hind legs after what happened at the 4th and best watched for the moment
Monsieur Lecoq
Won Welsh Champion Hurdle, then good runs in Greatwood at Cheltenham then International also at Cheltenham, though looked hard work  behind Call Me Lord, more firmly pushed along approaching 6th, hard ridden 2 out as pace increased, going worst of the field at that stage, went wide home turn, outpaced under a ride from home turn and last over last some 7 or 8 lengths down, hard ridden, stayed on past beaten ones last 175 yards, sustained effort to take 4th from weakening Pentland Hills post, no impression on those ahead. Ridden closer to the pace when 2nd to Not So Sleepy at Ascot the following week in Grade 3 handicap hurdle. Probably lags the best of these
Petit Mouchoir*
Remains largely consistent and, as he often does, gave it a good go from the front in Matheson Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas,  mistake 3rd, left in definite lead 4th, at most a length in front as field bunched up approaching 2 out, still moved comfortably home turn,  niggled along as joined by Sharjah approaching last, 1st 2 clear, pushed along nearing it with every chance though not going as well, hard ridden and readily left behind run-in, kept on. More of the same looks the order of the day
Saglawy
Best run last season when 3rd to Wonder Laish in good handicap at Fairyhouse in December 2018, still quite a bit to do approaching 3 out, travelled well but had all but one to pass home turn, started a move and came wide into the straight, passed a few, shaken up after 2 out, put under pressure, ran on strongly to close on leaders approaching last, blundered, continued to run on, took 3rd 125 yards out, very much nearest finish and arguably should have won.  Again given a lot to do on reappearance in conditions hurdle at Punchestown over 2m4f, midfield 4th, mistake 6th, niggled along 8th, ridden into 3 out, couldn’t go with those ahead approaching 2 out but not hard ridden till after it, pushed along off home turn and ran on approaching last, took 2nd run-in, driven, stayed on last 150 yards, was closed on final strides and no impression on Burrows Saint. Not entitled to run close
Sharjah**
Defeated Supasundae in the Grade 1 here over Christmas in 2018, got brought down by Buveur D’Air at the 3rd in the Champion Hurdle. Went for the race at Leopardstown again over Christmas (Matheson Hurdle) and repeated his victory, held up last, made a place 4th, smooth headway to chase leader 5th, moved comfortably a length down home turn, travelled best approaching last, 1st 2 clear, sent for home after last, ran on well with a good turn of foot to draw clear, readily beat Petit Mouchoir. That is what I’m looking for in a Champion Hurdler and he’ll surely run close here
Supasundae
Took advantage of Faugheen pulling up and Melon falling to win the Aintree Hurdle in deteriorating conditions from a below-par Buveur D’Air, grinding it out from the last. Back over 2m in the Punchestown Champion and on less testing going Buveur D’Air turned the tables from Aintree, pushed along 5th, turned for home in last and stayed on under pressure to go 2nd late. Having not won fresh since 2014, chances here over 2m negligible unless it’s heavy
Ballycaines
Maiden on the Flat and over hurdles, I didn’t give him a rating better than 94 when he was with Nicky Henderson and if this race was in Britain, he’d be barred from running
Honeysuckle
Unbeaten in six runs over hurdles and stepped up to Grade 1 to take the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse on December 1st,  in close to 4th and 6th, moved comfortably, edged closer 4 out, nudged along then ridden into 3 out, produced to challenge Apple’s Jade up front approaching home turn, sent on turning in and going best, niggled along, soon more firmly pushed along, ridden between last 2, stayed on well to go clear, some 8 lengths up when slowed into and mistake last, ridden out, stayed on well to beat Bacardys. A point winner before she started hurdling, having not raced over 2m since December 2018, she deserves to contest favouritism but not to be favourite outright – her jumping needs to improve too

Selection: SHARJAH – Alternative: Petit Mouchoir

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