Good morning all,
This week the focus is once again firmly on jumps racing. There are two Grand National’s in the next five days. It’s the Irish version at Fairyhouse this afternoon and of course the worlds most famous horse race at Aintree on Saturday
It’s Easter Monday which means there’s plenty of good racing to enjoy. And terrestrial television viewers can watch the best of the action from Fairyhouse & Kempton in a nice race programme.
Inside today’s main piece, I have a few of interest at Fairyhouse & Kempton.
Firstly, a few words on the retirement of Richard Johnson.
Dickie calls time
Richard Johnson surprised many in jumps racing by calling time on his riding career on Saturday. It was typical of the man that he did with a minimum amount of fuss and with no AP McCoy style grand finale.
I was slightly surprised at the timing of the announcement, ater a losing ride at Newton Abbot and just a week before the Grand National. However, at 43 he didn’t have anything to prove and his likely rides at Aintree weren’t probably expected to provide him with a winner so why not go out now whilst in one piece.
He was unlucky to be around at the same time as McCoy or he would have been likely Champion Jockey plenty of times during his long career.
I was lucky enough to get to chat to him one evening after racing at the Cheltenham Festival. Me and a couple of friends were in a restaurant and we spied Johnson with his wife and a few friends enjoying dinner. As we were leaving, we asked if we could take some photos with him outside. He was more than happy to oblige. He even gave us a tip for the next day’s racing. It was Fingal Bay who won the Pertemps Final.
He really is the modest, unassuming, and cheerful guy you see being interviewed on TV.
Happy retirement Richard Johnson.
Easter Monday Racing
The race of the day either side of the Irish Sea is of course the Irish Grand National. However, there are also couple of good races at Kempton this afternoon.
4:02 – Unibet Snowdrop Fillies' Stakes (Listed Race) – 1m
Made In Italy seems to have returned to action an improved filly. Held up in a steadily run Newcastle handicap 25-days ago, she produced an excellent turn of foot inside the final furlong to win with a bit in hand. This is a big step up in class but she looks capable of being competitive. Her trainer Marco Botti knows what’s required to win the race with 3 winners from 8 runners 5 placed since 2010.
4:35 – Unibet 15 To Go Queen's Prize Handicap (Class 2) – 2m
A disappointing field of just seven for the race. The market is headed by the Roger Varian trained Postileo who is making his all-weather debut. Unexposed, just the four career starts, he ended last season with a win at Salisbury (1m 6f). Today’s distance should be within his stamina range and he looks open to further improvement as a 4-year-old.
Starczewski, despite hold-up tactics in slowly run races, the 5-year-old has managed to win his last two, over C&D and last time at Wolverhampton (1m 6f). He’s only been raised 2lb for his Wolverhampton success and looks sure to go close.
5:35 – Fred Kenny Lifetime Service To Racing Handicap Chase – 3m ½ f
The Gunner Murphy heads the market. The 8-year-old is 0-6 over fences and returned from over 12 months off the track to finish 2nd of 6 at Down Royal 19-days ago. He shaped that day like he needs todays’ trip and is capable of better. His stablemate Smoking Gun has really struggled on his last four starts since finishing a promising third at Cork at the turn of the year. Better ground and this is a drop in class for the 8-year-old.
The likes of Whisperinthebreeeze and Paper Lantern are on winnable marks based on their back class. The former would be of interest if the ground was to dry out further and his trainer had a double here yesterday.
Another on a handy mark is Ah Littleluck, a winner of a handicap hurdle at this meeting in 2018. The 11-year-old is only 1-19 over fences but put in his best effort over fences here last season and a reproduction of that performance would see him in the mix. No form this season but if he was bounce back, he would have each way claims.
5:40 – Fairyhouse – Ah Littleluck – 33/1 @ Coral & Ladbrokes (EW)
Good luck with your Monday bets.
John Burke is the tipster behind the long standing Victor Value service you can join him here – https://victorvalue.uk