Newmarket & Punchestown selections Saturday 1st May
It is the final day of five at Punchestown and it looks the best day for betting with plenty of wide open handicaps and even the Grade 1 races are competitive. I have selections for the two handicap chases. However Punchestown has to share top billing with Newmarket as the first classic of the season the 2000 Guineas is run.
There is no stand out in the 2000 Guineas this year (Newmarket 3.40) but I am taking the view that the recent Irish dominance in England will stretch from jump racing to the flat and am going in with two Irish trained horses.
WEMBLEY will surely improve for the extra furlong having finished very strongly from the back of the field in both the National Stakes and Dewhurst Stakes last autumn. He will probably need to be ridden closer to the pace here but hopefully there will be a decent pace to run at and I like him better over this trip then the winner of the National, Thunder Moon, who looked more of a speed horse that day, and faltered when beaten in the Dewhurst.
At longer odds POETIC FLARE can run a big race. He beat Lipizanner in the opening 2yo race of the season at Naas prior to lockdown last spring, but was not then seen again until being set a very stiff test in the Dewhurst. It was no disgrace to fade that day, but that run clearly brought him on as he won well at Leopardstown in a Group 3 after that. He has also had the benefit of a run having won the trial back at Leopardstown last month. Whilst he is a tail swisher, he did battle on bravely on both occasions and he is breeding is stamina laden, so the extra furlong should only be a bonus.
Over at Punchestown there only looks to be one outstanding candidate for the 3m7f (2.50) in MISTER FOGPATCHES. Despite racing keenly, he saw out the 4m at Ayr for the Scottish National really well and staying chases are surely going to be his thing for the rest of his career. It is a big ask to come back so soon (just 13 days later) but everything else is in his favour.
We know he is in form and handles decent ground well – he was a strong fourth in a valuable race at Leopardstown in March on yielding going. We now know he stays this trip and he remains at the right end of the handicap being so unexposed at the age of seven. He also ran well here over hurdles in September when second over 3m.
I have two options for the 4.30. MYTH BUSTER is surprisingly over-priced for me. He got off the mark over fences when beating Top Moon at Thurles last month (that opponent running respectably well over an inadequate trip here earlier in the week.) He was also a good fifth on decent ground in the Paddy Power over Christmas, a run sandwiched between two modest efforts on deep going in valuable handicaps. Decent going does seem to be important to him and he ran some crackers in novice company during a dry winter in 2018/19, the highlight being a close third to Easy Game at Leopardstown. He was even thrown into Grade 1 company at one point. Top conditional Hugh Morgan eases his burden, meaning he has a lovely racing weight of just 10-8.
It could also be worth chancing JERANDME back at a longer distance. His last run at Fairyhouse was the first time he had finished out of the frame in his entire career – but it was a tough task over 2m and it could well be that outing was simply a stepping stone to this target. Prior to that he had won over 3m at Sligo, the last of a hat-trick taking in two chases and a flat race. His win over Aforementioned reads particularly well given that horse went on to win twice in October, including the Munster National and reopposes on 7lbs worse terms today. Jerandme is also very much a good ground horse so today’s conditions will be fine.