This Sunday, Racing TV brings you the superb card from Fairyhouse where there are three Grade One contests to savour.
We will also be covering all the action from Kelso and Huntingdon, with the latter course staging the Grade Two Fitzdares Peterborough Chase.
I have four selections, three of them trained by Willie Mullins.
12.25 Fairyhouse: Zarak The Brave
Fairly useful on the Flat in France, this Mullins-trained gelding made an impressive start to his hurdling career when winning on debut here at Fairyhouse by ten lengths. He sped clear from two out, recording a top-class speed figure for a juvenile.
He has been given more than three weeks to recover from that big effort and, rather than recoil, I expect him to step forward now and prove even sharper. His main rival is Comfort Zone, but he faces a quick turnaround after an impressive win just six days ago at Navan.
1.25 Fairyhouse: Champ Kiely
I put this horse up as my horse to follow for the season in the Racing TV magazine at the start of the season and Grade One success awaits him now. His two wins this season at Galway and Tipperary over different distances were both wildly impressive to the eye and his speed figure at Tipperary last time was striking.
In the latter race he easily beat the Cheltenham Festival winner Brazil, who then went on to comfortably land a Grade Three event himself. To further boost the form the fourth in that race, beaten some ten lengths, went on to win a Listed hurdle. Champ Kiely is an exciting prospect whose two wins this season over different trips and at tracks with different configurations make him not just very useful, but versatile as well.
2.55 Huntingdon: Pic D’Orhy
Paul Nicholls has his horses in tremendous form and he can land the Peterborough Chase with his smart gelding. First Flow may well go off favourite, meaning that 11-4 or bigger could be available about this novice last season and is a classy individual.
He was a dual Grade Two winner last season as a novice and this sharp track should suit his strong travelling style. He had a nice pipe opener at Newton Abbot in mid-October, where he was not hard pressed and didn’t have a hard race in coming home an easy winner. That should have blown away the cobwebs and he can step up to their mark here in much better company.
3.05 Fairyhouse: Icare Allen
This horse looks well-handicapped off a mark of 140. It’s his first season in open company after proving himself to be a leading juvenile last season. He boasts a fourth in what was a stellar renewal of the Triumph Hurdle and he won a Grade Three over this course and distance, where he beat Prairie Dancer very easily.
That horse has subsequently won comfortably off a mark of 132, which makes the Icare Allen’s rating look favourable. The fact that Mullins looks to exploit his handicap mark, rather than take in Graded stakes company, is a tip in itself.
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