Johnny Ward tipped 11-2 winner Japan in his column last week and boasts a £34.44 profit based on £1 bets since May 1 from 85 tips.
If ever global warming genuinely provided a fright in these parts, it was after the announcement earlier this week that next Thursday’s Thurles offering would have to be called off due to the ground being too hard.
Thurles was considered Ireland’s only all-weather track before Dundalk came along: it seemed capable of withstanding every sort of weather – no mean achievement given the amount of schooling races that take place there.
For connections with horses wanting soft ground, this has been a really frustrating few months and top trainers’ plans will be influenced by their grass gallops also being too hard for the jumps horses.
That is all in the mind this weekend as cards at Gowran and Tipperary are traditionally laden with classy jumpers returning.
It is a cracking weekend’s racing ahead, never mind Newmarket and Longchamp.
Johnny Ward’s Saturday tips:
Dot Love’s string is in good form. From her last 11 runners, she has enjoyed a winner, two seconds, two thirds and a fourth, with none of those sent off favourite.
Bridge Native is very interesting in this winnable handicap hurdle. She was in the money on four successive occasions in 2016 before winning a maiden hurdle readily at Thurles.
Off for over a year and a half she likely needed the run at Listowel on ground that may have been too soft, but her subsequent close third in a Galway maiden over a mile and a half renders her potentially the best-treated horse in this race, with the lively terrain to suit.
Moreover, she has Conor Orr’s claim to help.
Stamina is a concern for most of the runners here. That is not the case with James Motherway’s charge, sporting cheekpieces for the first time.
This son of Beneficial has been remarkably consistent this year, with form of 13356233, mixing hurdling and chasing. He looks very likely to run his race and he may have a little too much staying power under Robbie Power.
He may also be underestimated by the bookmakers.
Johnny Ward’s Sunday tips:
JP McManus has a remarkable recent record in this race. Since 2012, only Rebel Fitz and Ivan Grozny have carried other owners' colours to victory, with Captain Cee Bee (twice), Plinth and Jezki victorious for the prominent owner.
Whilst essentially disappointing since his juvenile hurdling days, Ivanovich Gorbatov will relish conditions and his penultimate run when edged out of a €50,000 hurdle was excellent.
He gets 11lb off 4-5 favourite Wicklow Brave here and he looks a bit big in the market in a race up for grabs if the top weight in any way underperforms.
Decision Time won a maiden hurdle on heavy in April but subsequent victories on lively ground on the Flat – bringing her mark up to 84 – suggest a preference for nice terrain and certainly suggest she could be ahead of the handicapper off 104.
She is trained by the masterly John Kiely, while Rachael Blackmore is a good booking, and she could have too much class for these.
Johnny Ward's weekend Ireland tips: