Paul Ferguson has four selections for us on Saturday, Quel Esprit and Zaidpour at Leopardstown, Romulus D’Artaix at Warwick and Persian Snow at Newbury
Leopardstown stages it’s rescheduled triple Grade 1 card this afternoon and Zaidpour (2:45) is taken to land the Deliotte Novice Hurdle and enhance his claims for the Supreme at the Cheltenham Festival.
Willie Mullins’ charge was a costly flop over Christmas, but the race appeared to come too quickly for him and, judged on his first two starts over timber, he looked a seriously talented novice.
The same connections will be hoping he provides them with the second leg of a big race double, as Mikael D’Haguenet runs in the Dr P J Moriarty Novice Chase, a race Mullins has won for the past three seasons.
The market leader remains a potential superstar and a quick reappearance was also blamed for his defeat over the festive period. However, he jumped to the right that day and needs to be sharper here so, at the prices (7/2 on Friday evening), it is worth taking a chance on his stable-mate Quel Esprit (1:45).
A smart novice hurdler in the mud last term, he took well to fences on his chase bow at Limerick in November, where he beat Torphicen (who finished in front of Mikael D’Haguenet last time) over an inadequate trip.
Absent since, he has optimum conditions and the former point-to-point winner can cause a small upset.
Newbury’s Totesport Trophy Hurdle looks even more wide open than usual and the supporting card looks tough to say the least.
The best bet on the card could come in the very last race when Persian Snow (4:40) returns to action in a hot renewal of the Grade 2 bumper.
Philip Hobbs’ Ascot winner looked a horse to follow on his rules debut and the form has since been well advertised. But, this does look a warm race, so he is probably not one to take very short odds about.
The spotlight at Warwick will be on Finian’s Rainbow in the Kingmaker, but the penultimate novices’ hurdle makes most appeal from a punting perspective.
There are plenty of runners with hurdling experience and form in the book, but Romulus D’Artaix (4:20) was more than a useful bumper performer and can be rated better than his form figures would suggest.
He makes his hurdles debut at the right time, with Alan King’s string in such good order, and, due to the strength in depth in the race, he will hopefully be available at an each-way price.
1:45 Leopardstown: Quel Esprit
4:20 Warwick: Romulus D’Artaix
4:40 Newbury: Persian Snow
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Last year’s selections included:
Hurricane Fly: 3/1 winner of the G1 Rabobank Champion Hurdle
Copper Bleu: 12/1 winner of the Jewson at Cheltenham
Great Endeavour: 18/1 winner of the Festival Plate
Tranguil Sea: 11/2 winner of the Paddy Power Gold Cup
Sizing Europe: 6/1 winner of the Arkle
Weapon’s Amnesty: 10/1 winner of the RSA Chase