Alan Marron gives us his selections for the €100,000 handicap hurdle that takes place on a superb day of racing at Fairyhouse on Sunday
3:10pm – Download the App Baroneracing.comHandicap Hurdle (Grade A) (4yo+)
This is one of the most competitive races on the card but there are three horses that really stand out in terms of form and they will be the focus of the preview here.
HEARTS ARE TRUMPS:
This horse was a very creditable fourth behind Wonder Laish in this race last year off a mark of 136 where he was on terms going to two out and just weakened on the run in. He gets in here off a mark of 139 and that for me looks very enticing if he takes his chance.
He went on to finish third over Easter in another very competitive handicap at Fairyhouse and then he produced another very good run at Listowel to finish third behind David’s Charm. He had a 51day break and returned off the back of that to run a very good race at Down Royal where it looked to me as if he would come on plenty from the race.
He weakened on the run-in that day but, no doubt, the trainer was very happy with the run and this looks the ideal next step. He deserves to land a decent pot and will be high up the pecking order for this race.
On chase form, this horse would be very interesting considering that he is rated some 16lb lower over hurdles. He hasn’t been seen over hurdles since the Punchestown Festival where he finished midfield behind True Self, trained by Willie Mullins. He ran an absolute cracker to finish third behind Duc De Genievres in the Racing Post Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and, if he runs anywhere near that mark, he would give them plenty to do here.
He returned after a 173-day break to finish second to Lakemilan at Cork on the 20th October and that should leave him spot on for this. He stayed on well that day so any improvement should put him bang there.
He could be underestimated in this race. This is the only entry he has over the weekend so it is highly likely that he takes his place here.
CIEL DE NEIGE:
Cheltenham form from last year is on show here and Ciel De Neige looks very unexposed. Willie Mullins could have this horse lined up to land a decent pot as his handicap mark of 134 looks lenient to say the least. He finished a very good second to Band Of Outlaws in the ‘Fred Winter’ off 132 and he has only been raised 2lb for that run.
His French form prior to that wasn’t too spectacular to say the least but the most eye-catching piece of form was finishing fourth of eight to Pic D’Orhy at Auteuil. Paul Nicholls was waxing lyrical about Pic D’Orhy before the Triumph Hurdle. He then went back to Auteuil and fell in a Grade One Hurdle. Ciel De Neige is coming off the back of a winter break and market moves for this horse could be very interesting. He gets in here carrying 10-10 and that looks good to me. He is entered in a couple of maiden hurdles before then so Willie may opt for the easier assignment.