AIDAN O’BRIEN clearly means business again this season after he took six horses to Meydan in the UAE on Saturday and enjoyed a winner courtesy of Daddy Long Legs in the UAE Derby and four of his other combatants finished in the first four.
Daddy Long Legs now looks likely to have a bash at the Kentucky Derby and while it would be great for Irish racing if he succeeds, I’m still a bit sad that we are less likely to see him at Newmarket for the English 2,000 Guineas or even our own version at The Curragh.
I love this time of year when everyone is dreaming of glories on the flat but we still have some very decent jumps action to go including this Monday’s Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse’s Easter Festival.
Willie Mullins suffered a major body blow on Saturday when his 8-1 English Grand National favourite Prince De Beauchene was ruled out of that race.
We decided to give punters their money back if they had backed him already but they won’t find it easy to work out Willie’s plans for the Irish Grand National as he currently has nine entries and there are a lots of ifs and buts about a lot of them.
That doesn’t matter to me as I think that I might have seen the winner Cross Appeal when he won our very own Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown just after Christmas, when he mastered Treacle by three-quarters of a length.
I really liked the way that he kept on well under pressure on the run-in and the runner-up franked the form in no uncertain terms by subsequently finishing a fine third behind Quel Esprit in the Hennessy Gold Cup in February.
The way that my selection stayed on in our race indicated to me that he would be well suited by the additional five furlongs at Fairyhouse and I know that wily trainer Noel Meade has aimed him at this race since.
Meade knows exactly what it takes to land an Irish National having struck a decade ago with The Bunny Boiler and I think that he is a bit of value at 16-1 at time of writing.
I’m also hoping that Paddy Mooney allows Fairyhouse specialist Good Fella to take his chance in the 2m 6f handicap hurdle on the same day.
He won a similar event under Mooney’s son Martin at Navan last month and the pair gained a bit of a cheeky success taking the lead close home.
Afterwards Mooney snr indicated that they may have been a bit lucky that runner-up and favourite Liszt made an error at the last obstacle but for my money, I think that my fancy would have won the race anyway.
Good Fella has picked up four of his five wins under rules at Fairyhouse and actually won this event four years’ ago and I think that at the very least he will give us a good run for our money as he has been in the first four on five of his six starts this season.
Over to the footy now and if anyone had said to me a few months’ ago that I would be backing Wigan to get a draw at Chelsea, I would have called for the men in the white coats but that’s exactly what I’m going for this week at 4-1.
The Latics have won their last two games, including a 2-1 victory away at Liverpool, and are now a very hard team to beat having only lost once in their last eight games.
Chelsea have also hit form but I think they’ll be tired after their game against Benfica and Wigan can nick a point.
Saturday 3pm Chelsea to draw with Wigan
Monday 3.10pm Fairyhouse Good Fella
Monday 4.50pm Fairyhouse Cross Appeal