Paul Ferguson has two selections for us on Sunday; Mikael D’Haguenet in the 4.05 at Fairyhouse and Rien Ne Vas Plus in the 4.25 at Sandown
With Arkle third Realt Dubh and Jewson first and third, Noble Prince and Loosen My Load, in the line-up, this afternoon’s Grade 1 Powers Gold Cup, the feature on the opening day of the Irish Grand National meeting, looks a cracking renewal.
It may, however, be worth giving another chance to Mikael D’Haguenet (4:05) who hasn’t had things go his way this season, but it would not be a massive surprise to see him bounce back and gain an overdue first success over fences.
The former top-class novice hurdler should have won over course-and-distance on debut, but for falling at the last and handing the contest to RSA runner-up Jessies Dream, with Realt Dubh well beaten in third.
On his penultimate start the seven-year-old may well have beaten RSA winner Bostons Angels, but for being hampered by the fall of stable-mate Quel Esprit and he was in the process of running a big race in the RSA before coming down six from home when last seen.
Willie Mullins’ charge was sent off at 4/7 to beat these three rivals over an inadequate 2m1f over Christmas, so at around 4/1 he has to be worth taking a chance on.
Earlier on the card Our Girl Salley is really interesting in the mares novice hurdle, but she’s been off for a while, having missed Cheltenham through injury, and she’s never encountered ground as lively as she will today.
There’s enough negatives, therefore, to put me off and I’m heading to Sandown for the day’s second selection, in the penultimate fillies’ maiden.
This looks a potentially decent contest, with four of the runners entered in the Epsom Oaks, and of those is Sir Michael Stoute’s Rien Ne Vas Plus (4:25) who ran a race full of promise on her sole start at two.
Green and rather clueless in the early stages, the daughter of Oasis Dream dropped herself right out in the first couple of furlongs, only to fairly rattle home under Ryan Moore and claim sixth place in what was a decent event at Newmarket.
The second and fourth have won their only starts since, while the third home Joviality runs earlier on the card, so a positive showing from her will further enhance the selection’s claims.
Though she’s out of the high-class sprinter, there is plenty of stamina on the dam’s side, being out of a Rainbow Quest mare, and she is in fact a half-sister to North Light, who won the Derby for these connections back in 2004.
4:05 Fairyhouse: Mikael D’Haguenet
4:25 Sandown: Rien Ne Vas Plus
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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