Eye Catchers March 2023

He’s My Hero – 2nd in 5.22 Naas 30/03/23

He’s My Hero ran above his odds when second to Mirazur West in the 2 mile Bumper at Naas. The winner Mirazur West is a brother to Ferny Hollow and was well touted as a very talented horse before this race. The third Mahon’s Way was a 360k purchase at the Tatts Cheltenham Sale after winning a P2P at Lisronagh for Denis Hogan. He’s My Hero drifted from 12/1 to 20/1 before the off but showed plenty enough in defeat to suggest he is capable of winning a Bumper.

Thedevilscoachman – 1st in 3.25 Limerick 26/03/23

Thedevilscoachman won this Grade 3 novice chase over an extended three miles comfortably. He has taken time to warm to fences and jumped slowly during the early part of this race before jumping more fluently at the business end. He won a Grade 2 over hurdles and that class shone here with his turn of foot proving too strong for Grandero Bello back in second place. This race has been won in the past by good horses such as Kemboy, Lifetime Ambition, General Principle & Chatam Street Lad. Thedevilscoachman loves testing ground and if the ground came up soft at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival, he is a player in the Irish Grand National.

Senior Chief – 1st in 2.55 Navan 20/03/23

Senior Chief made it two wins from three runs over hurdles with a victory over Landrake at Navan. It was a stiff test for novice hurdlers over 2m6f on heavy ground. Landrake set the pace up front ensuring a solid gallop but didn’t jump the third last hurdle well. Our eye was always drawn to Senior Chief who travelled nicely behind Landrake and passed him after the final hurdle. It was a cosy enough win for this ex Irish pointer who heads for the Red Mills final at the Punchestown Festival next time out. The race is run over 2m4f which will be fine as Senior Chief travelled so well here and has gears.

Uppin the Anti – 2nd in 2.30 Thurles 18/03/23

Upping The Anti stayed on well to finish second behind Flame Bearer at Thurles. This was his second race back following a winter break having been brought down at Leopardstown earlier this month. Rachael Blackmore rode him well out the back and he was never put into a challenging position. I liked the way he stayed on to pass tired horses with 2m2f on the short side for him. The handicapper didn’t miss this run, raising his mark by 6lbs to 139. He holds an entry in the Topham Chase at Aintree and is crying out for a step up in trip.

An Tailliur – 10th in 2.10 Cheltenham 16/03/22

An Tailliur was on my radar for the Pertemps only for the ground to go against him unfortunately. He was a massive eyecatcher when finishing 3rd behind Shoot First in the Pertemps Qualifier on his penultimate start. He ran well considering conditions were against him to finish only 4 ½ lengths behind Good Time Jonny. Back on a faster surface he is handicapped to go close.

Fact To File – 2nd in 5.30 Cheltenham 15/03/23

You all know at this stage that this is a horse I feel has a big future and anything he achieves this year will be a bonus. He will be one of the top Novice Hurdlers next year when stepped up in trip and could be a better Chaser in time. He is already, giant favourite with A Dream To Share for next year’s Ballymore. A Dream To Share is more of a flat bred horse with speed while Fact to File is more of a National Hunt horse who could eventually turn into a Gold Cup candidate. We will chalk him down for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2026 if he stays sound.

Run For Oscar – 11th in 2.50 Cheltenham 15/03/23

Run For Oscar finished 11th in the Coral Cup beaten 16 ½ lengths. He won the English Cesarewitch off a mark of 90 by 3 ¼ lengths, eased down at the finish. He now has a rating of 101 on the flat. Off a Hurdles mark of 143 he is well handicapped and just needs to get suitable good ground to prove this. He would have gone very close in this if the ground had been good. Trainer Charles Byrne will find a suitable race, perhaps at Aintree or Punchestown and when he gets his favoured conditions he will win.

Sir Gerhard – 9th in 2.10 Cheltenham 15/03/23

Sir Gerhard simply cannot jump at the pace required to win at this level. He was so slow over his fences on the first circuit and showed a big engine is still there to be there two out before fading up the hill. I feel there could be an opportunity of Sir Gerhard going back over hurdles and giving the Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown a shot. The first two past the post in the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham were 11 and 10 year olds and Willie has no Stayers Hurdle candidate bar Klassical Dream who is fragile at the best of times and not an out and out stayer. He has proven class having won the Bumper at Cheltenham and the Ballymore Novices’ over 2m 5f on soft ground. He’s 33/1 Antepost for next year’s Stayers Hurdle.

Diverge – 3rd in 1.30 Cheltenham 14/03/23

Diverge ran well above his odds of 25/1 to finish third in the Supreme. This was only his third run since joining Willie Mullins from France and he ran a huge race staying on powerfully up the hill. He finished 6th on his Irish debut behind High Definition before winning his maiden at Punchestown by 23 lengths. Patrick gave him a lovely toe into this race stalking Marine Nationale who had too much toe for Diverge and the remainder of the field. Diverge reached for the last hurdle but could still manage to pick up to get the better of a talented Inthepocket.

Vera Verto – 4th in 3.45 Leopardstown 05/03/23

Vera Verto was 3rd in a Maiden Hurdle 3 ¼ lengths behind the now 142 rated Icare Allen. That was just over a year ago. She then finished fifth in a Maiden at Punchestown behind the likes of The Tide Turns (OR 130), HMS Seahorse (OR139), Igraine (OR118) and Brazil (OR142). She won her Maiden Hurdle at Navan this time last year and looks like a spring horse. She finished 9 ½ lengths fourth last time at Leopardstown behind Gaoth Chuil but showed enough to suggest she is capable of winning one of these races soon off her current mark of 114. The over exaggerated back hand she got from jockey Patrick O’ Brien looked to me like he was trying to let on he was giving her a harder race than he actually was. The fact that he did it before running up the back of horses would also suggest he didn’t give her the option to pick up from it. When he pulled her out in the clear after that he rode her like her chances had gone.

Red Trail – 5th in 2.00 Navan 04/03/23

I thought jockey Sean O’ Keeffe gave Red Trail trained by Andrew McNamara a lovely educational ride here on the inside, covered up and learning to settle he jumped well. He finished a 4 lengths fifth behind the Dermot Weld trained Grappa Nonino. He was sent off at odds of 50/1 that would indicate he ran better than expected. He was a two time winner on the flat over 1m 2fs and might be targeting a handicap down the line. It will be interesting to see what mark the handicapper gives him. He showed enough to suggest that there is a race in him and all the horses at the top of the market finished around him.

Take My Hand – 3rd in 3.50 Clonmel 02/03/23

Take My Hand was on my radar for Michael Mulvany and I was surprised she finished where she did considering she drifted out to 25/1. Jordan Gainford has been onboard her for her four starts of hurdles and he wasn’t hard on her from two out in this race. I actually think he thought she was going to fade out of it more than she did and she ended up going up 1 lb in the handicap as a result. She can win a race off 94 and should take a step forward from her handicap debut. Keep an eye on the market with this one as she will be punted when fancied.

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