Sempo the pick of my four in Irish National and he can run a big race


Actium looks fairly handicapped and conditions will suit

14:05 – Isotope and Battle Of Actium

Isotope got plenty of experience over hurdles earlier this season and comes into this a fresh horse after having a mid-season break. He is in good order at home and will hopefully be up to running a solid race.

Battle Of Actium won a maiden hurdle at Down Royal in December and while he has been a little bit disappointing since then, he looks fairly handicapped if bouncing back to his best. Conditions will suit and with a bit of luck he’ll run well.

Busselton is much better than what he showed at Cheltenham

14:40 – Busselton and Scholastic

We were disappointed with how things went for Busselton in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. We were hoping for a big run from him and he was in a good position until a bad mistake at the fourth-last hurdle effectively ended his chance. He’s much better than he was able to show there and we’ve applied first-time blinkers just to sharpen him up a bit. I’d be hopeful that he’ll run a good race.

Scholastic has a bit to find in this company, but she receives weight all around and if she could sneak into the frame to earn black type, that would be a huge result for her.

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He has a great chance at these weights

16:20 – Fakir D’Oudairies

Fakir D’Oudairies ran very well indeed to finish second to Allaho in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. We’ve long thought that mid-range trips would suit him best and that performance went a long way to confirming it. He won the Drinmore Novice Chase over this course-and-distance last season and he looks to be fairly treated by the weights of this race. He looks to have a great chance.

Four-handed in the Irish Grand National

17:00 – Sempo, Home By The Lee, Top Moon and Mortal

Sempo is a horse we’ve always liked, but he had a disastrous start over fences this season, unseating his rider twice in his first three starts. We dropped him back in trip for his last two starts to try to get some confidence-boosting runs into him and we were delighted with how he ran in those. He is stepping back up in trip here and his stamina for this sort of test is unknown, but given the size of the pot, this is the sort of race to take chances in. He has always enjoyed a sound surface, so that will certainly be in his favour. If he can get into a good jumping rhythm, he’ll hopefully run a big race.

Home By The Lee has had a great season already, winning three of his five starts over fences. We thought he might run a big race in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting, but he made a bad mistake at the second fence and never got his rhythm back after that. He jumped better on his latest start at Naas and ended up running out the impressive winner of that novices’ handicap chase. The handicapper put him up 10lb for that, but hopefully he’ll be capable of more improvement. We always thought he’d stay this sort of trip and given he tends to jump to his right, returning to a right-handed track will be a help to him. If he gets into a good jumping rhythm, I could see him running very well.

Top Moon is a horse that took time to find his feet over fences, but showed he can be competitive in big-field handicap chases when second to A Wave Of The Sea in the Matheson Handicap Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival. He was a little bit unlucky not to win a maiden chase at Thurles last time, as he made a mistake at the final fence and didn’t have enough time to recover up the short run-in. His stamina for this trip is an unknown, but if he gets home, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him run well.

Mortal has been running in all the big staying handicap chases this season and hasn’t made a serious impact in them. The handicapper has been slow to give him some relief and he is still 3lb higher than when winning a much weaker handicap at Killarney last August. He looks up against it, but options are limited for him and we’ll let him take his chance.

Gunning for two solid runs

17:40 – The Gunner Murphy and Smoking Gun

The Gunner Murphy remains a maiden over fences, but we were happy with his return from a year off at Down Royal last time and we hope he won’t be a maiden over fences for much longer. This sort of race should suit him and hopefully he’ll run a good race.

Smoking Gun has been a disappointment this season. We have always felt he would be up to being very competitive in valuable handicap chases, but he has fluffed his lines a few times this season. This represents a drop in class for him and we’d just like to see him get back on track with a solid run.