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Sunday Preview

Inside today’s main piece you’ll find my thoughts on Sunday’s action on ITV.

If its quality racing you’re after, then the Punchestown card is for you. However, there are also several interesting handicap puzzles on the Exeter card.

Punchestown

Willie Mullins has won the ten of the last 11 running’s of the Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle (2:05). Only Abacadabras in 2020 prevented him from being a perfect eleven. It’s hard to look beyond Mullins once more as he has three of the five declared runners. Last year’s winner Sharjah is mong them. As is State Man who ended last season with wins in the County Hurdle and the Grade 1 Novices’ Hurdle here. State Man is a best priced 10/1 for the Champion Hurdle and he will need to see of his four rivals if he’s to be considered a strong contender for March’s race.

Thirty five minutes before the Morgiana is the Grade 2 Florida Pearl Novices Chase (1:30). Idas Boy & Thedevilscoachman give trainer Noel Meade a strong hand in the race. Although the latter may not run unless the yielding ground eases further. Idas Boy made a winning chase debut at Cork last month and was a solid ½ length 2nd of 6 to the more experienced El Barra in a Grade 3 at the same venue two weeks ago. The step up to 2m 6f will suit the 8-year-old who sets a high standard.

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Amirite looked a nice prospect when winning a Fairyhouse beginners chase last month and looks set for further progress.

Can Minella Crooner give Gordon Elliott a fifth Florida Pearl?

Gordon Elliott who’s won four of the last six runnings of the race since 2016 runs Minella Crooner. A useful staying hurdler the 6-year-old makes his chase debut here and it’s interesting to see Gordon pitch him into Graded company on his chase debut.

Whatever the fate of Minella Crooner in the Florida Pearl I think Elliott can have winner in the Pertemps Network Group Handicap Hurdle (3:15).  Coventry has placed on both his starts since joining Elliott from Paul Nolan yard. The 5-year-old is worth another try at 3m, especially on ground that isn’t too testing.

Exeter

Besides four races from Punchestown. The ITV cameras are showing three from Exeter.

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2:25 – Neon Moon possibly didn’t see out 3m when a 9 length 5th of 11 to Masters Legacy in handicap here on chasing debut 16-days ago. There should be more to come from the 6-year-old over the larger obstacles and the yard has been in good form.  Dubrovnik Harry improved to finish a 4 ½ length 3rd of 17 in the EBF ‘National Hunt' Novices' Handicap Hurdle Final at Sandown on his final start of last season. Harry Fry quickly sends the 6-year-old over fences and he looks the type to do well over the larger obstacles.

Can the Kings Writ return to form?

3:00 – Lady KK has been given a chance by the handicapper and the mare has decent record fresh. St Erney is twice a winner here 7¼ lengths and was a fair 4th of 11 here 16-days ago. The 11-year-old is 4lb higher than for his last win but is capable of a good show at venue that suits. Both the The Kings Writ’s career wins have come here. He was disappointing on his four starts last season. Hard to know about the 11-year-old’s well being these days but he’s dropped down to a tempting should he bounce back. Samuel Jackson is a dual course winner including over the distance. If he’s ready to roll first time he would have a chance, but soft ground would be preferable.

3:35 – Forever Blessed looked a smart prospect when winning his first two starts over hurdles last season. We haven’t seen the 4-year-old since he was badly hampered and pulled up in the Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow in December. Remains one to be interested and could be nicely treated for his handicap hurdle debut.

Holly a triple bumper winner when trained in France made a winning start over hurdles on his second start for Jonjo O’Neill when bolting up at Wincanton last December. Off for ten months prior to a promising 4 ¼ length 3rd of 5 at Chepstow last month. Likely we haven’t seen the best of the 5-year-old and shouldn’t be far away on soft ground that should suit

Bluffmeifyoucan won at the third attempt over hurdles when successful in a maiden over C&D (soft) in February. Testing ground suited the 5-year-old that day. Not sure how well handicapped he is off a mark of 114 but if the ground is testing, he could get into the money.

Sunday Verdict:

Looking at the Exeter card. I like the claims of chase debutant Dubrovnik Harry. St Erney runner-up in the 3m handicap chase (3:00) 12 months ago could go one better in this year’s race and I wouldn’t totally dismiss the claims of The Kings Writ in the same race. Forever Blessed is also interesting on handicap hurdle debut in the 3:35.

Over at Punchestown. I would be disappointed if State Man wasn’t good enough to give Willie Mullins another Morgiana Hurdle. If the showers arrive and ease the ground further Thedevilscoachman could be hard to stop in the Florida Pearl Novices Chase. However, it’s interesting to see Gordon Elliott pitch Minella Crooner into Graded company on his chase debut. Provided the ground isn’t too soft I think Coventry can win the Pertemps Network Group Handicap Hurdle (3:15). 

Sunday Selection:

Punchestown

3:15 – Coventry -– 4/1 @ Bet365 & Coral.

I will be back tomorrow to look back at Saturday’s action.

Good luck with your Sunday bets.

John

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