We take a look at this week’s races for the latest Paddy’s Pick 5 competition, featuring no less than four races from a brilliant opening day at the Dublin Racing Festival. Don’t forget to make your entries and play for £/€50,000 in our free-to-play game!
2.03 Musselburgh: FLOWER OF SCOTLAND
Returning hero Captain Cattistock, who has twice run respectably since adding another win at Cheltenham, is expected to go well as he defends his crown, while Paddy’s Pick 5 players who side with last year’s runner-up The Wolf will be hoping that the switching of cheekpieces for blinkers will sharpen up his jumping after a sloppy performance last time out.
However, the step up to marathon distances really seemed to suit FLOWER OF SCOTLAND when she won at Kelso back in December. Her yard isn’t in as red-hot form as back then, but an 8lb rise in the weights may underestimate her and she is fancied to get the home crowd singing from the rafters.
Should this speedier track catch Flower Of Scotland out, then the very progressive Slipway (unbeaten in his last four starts for his jockey) and recent winners Tide Times and Just Don’t Know look likely to be the obvious beneficiaries. Positive mentions also go to course specialist Magna Sam, the 2021 winner of this race Mighty Thunder, and the fairly-handicapped (but suspect jumping) Irish raider Regina Dracones.
2.30 Leopardstown: APPRECIATE IT
A fascinating renewal of the Goffs Irish Arkle in which a few Cheltenham bubbles are likely to be burst. Willie Mullins has won five of the last eight renewals and most telling is that all of those winners were the shortest priced runners from the yard, with four being outright favourites.
The market will help guide, then, but marginal preference is for APPRECIATE IT, who is yet to run over fences at the course but has a 4/4 record here in bumpers/hurdles. The nine-year-old has beaten little of note in two starts over fences but has impressed on each occasion nonetheless.
That comment also applies to Dysart Dynamo - who got his career back on track with a dominant chasing debut over this course and distance - while fellow stablemate El Fabiolo is still very unexposed and a horse of great potential. Saint Roi (who was beaten by Fil Dor on his previous start) is already a Grade One winner over fences yet is a double-figure price. Madness.
I fancy Banbridge to win the Arkle at Cheltenham (where he is unbeaten in two starts, both on decent ground), so his participation here is certainly not to be taken lightly, but for all he is respected, this might not be his cup final. Regardless, this looks one of the races of the season.
2.55 Sandown: REMASTERED
Our friends at Timeform suggest that a strong pace could be on the cards here, which may help set the race up for a strong finisher. REMASTERED certainly fits into that bracket, and though 10lb higher than when winning at Aintree in November he is actually still 4lb lower than when overcoming a slow start to win over fences at Kempton when last seen.
Though something will clearly have to give, the in-form trio of Coquelicot, Jet Of Magic and Storm Nelson all like to get on with things from the front, while Flight Deck has also improved of late for a return to more positive tactics.
This race looks to have been the plan for a while with last year’s winner Green Book, who has his second start after a summer wind operation, and he should be fitter for a run (behind Flight Deck at Chepstow) that presumably blew away the cobwebs last time. However, he’s still 4lb higher than 12 months ago and may just come up short in this repeat bid. Call Me Lord is off the same mark as when only sixth that day, and is passed over as a result.
3.05 Leopardstown: GALOPIN DES CHAMPS
Those looking for a chink in the armour of hot favourite GALOPIN DES CHAMPS may point towards his lack of experience over this trip, with his sole three-mile win over hurdles coming in an end-of-season novice which fell apart somewhat. Aside from that, it’s quite hard to find valid reasons for taking him on here (for all there might be at Cheltenham next month) given the manner of his John Durkan win before Christmas.
The 2021 winner Kemboy has run his race on each occasion when runner-up on his last four starts, but, for all he is not discounted, his younger stablemate Stattler is the more obvious danger to Galopin Des Champs. He only has 13 lengths to find with the favourite on their hurdles form and has improved plenty since over fences, most notably when winning the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham and since chasing home former Gold Cup winner Minella Indo over an inadequate trip at Tramore last month.
Fury Road is held by Kemboy on their run over course and distance in December, while Grand National runner-up Any Second Now may find this trip more suitable than his hurdling run over two and a half miles at Punchestown last time; the company, however, may be too hot. Connections of the Welsh National third The Big Dog also look to be barking up the wrong tree.
3.16 Musselburgh: SOCIALIST AGENDA
Southern raiders have generally fared well in this race, so expect the likes of Grivetana and Camprond to show improved form than on their most recent outings. Grivetana is of most interest, but any further rain would weaken her chances despite the suspicion that there is still plenty more to come from this mark of 122.
Recent winners Nayati and Lebowski both have manageable rises in the weights to contend with, while Collingham – who was beaten into second by Nayati over this course and distance last month – is another high on any shortlist.
But the nod goes to SOCIALIST AGENDA, who also races in the James Fyffe silks shared by Collingham. Socialist Agenda has been ridden by a conditional jockey on his last two starts (solid efforts each time) but Craig Nichol now takes over in the saddle and it’s also worth noting that the horse is now only 2lb higher than when successful in this race 12 months ago. Along similar lines, the combination of the return of Danny McMenamin in the saddle and a drop in grade should see Parisencore bounce back somewhat.
For those Paddy’s Pick 5 punters looking to take a chance on one, they could do worse than side with the extremely well-handicapped Band Of Outlaws, a former Joseph O’Brien-trained winner of the Boodles at Cheltenham (from a 2lb higher mark than here). He likely retains more ability than when last of 10 at Sandown last month.
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DAVE NEVISON: MY BEST BETS FOR SATURDAY
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WATCH: ROAD TO CHELTENHAM WITH WEEKEND CLUES
JOHNNY WARD: TOP TIPS FOR LEOPARDSTOWN ON SATURDAY
PADDY POWER IRISH GOLD CUP: RUNNER-BY-RUNNER GUIDE
WATCH: ON THE WIRE DUBLIN RACING FESTIVAL PODCAST
DUBLIN RACING FESTIVAL: DAY ONE RACE PREVIEWS
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