Events that unfolded at Newbury on Saturday were some of the worst that I have ever seen on a racecourse and I would like to extend my sympathies to the connections of the two horses that died in the parade ring before the first race.
Shark Hanlon didn’t lose a horse, but nonetheless the Carlow trainer had the misfortune to be at Newbury, where his Star Neuville was due to run in the bumper before the meeting was abandoned and then later his Cheltenham Fox Hunters hope Viking Splash was unlucky when still in contention and clipping heels with another horse and falling after the last.
Spotting an up-and-coming handler can be a money spinner for punters and I modestly have to admit that I did unearth ‘Shark’ early, asking our so-called racing expert to give him a call about a horse that might run in a Paddy Power-sponsored contest and ‘our man’ didn’t even know who the fella was!
I spoke to Shark on Sunday and he has persuaded me to take on Dunguib in Saturday’s rearranged Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran Park with his Luska Lad.
A first glance at the selection’s recent form shows that he was beaten in a handicap last time on New Year’s Eve, but that was actually a very decent effort as he was only beaten a head giving the runner-up a massive 24lb.
Before that my fancy belied his 20-1 odds in the paddypower.com iPhone App Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown two days’ earlier to finish only two lengths behind Ireland’s best hurdler Hurricane Fly.
Shark enthused: “Luska Lad is in super form and will take an awful lot of beating as we try and retain his crown in this race. We’ll take on Dunguib as he’s having his first run of the season.”
He also reckons that his recent Thurles scorer Stowaway Pearl will win again in an amateur riders’ race at Clonmel on Thursday.
Longer term Star Neuville will go straight to the Cheltenham bumper with Shark of the view that his charge is the best bumper horse in Ireland.
Sunday is paddypower.com Cheltenham Trial Day at Naas with the feature being the paddypowerpoker.com Chase, which many of you will know as the Newlands Chase.
Although he won’t be too big a price, I’m really hoping that Willie Mullins allows Golden Silver another chance to exhibit his talents on home soil before unleashing him on his unsuspecting rivals in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.
He and Big Zeb, who filled the first two places in the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown on December 29, before the selection turned the form around in last month’s Tied Cottage Chase have been by far the best two two-milers in Ireland this season.
Golden Silver has won three and only found Big Zeb too powerful on his other two starts this term and without that rival in the Ryanair, he must go to Prestbury Park with a huge chance.
I said last week that Ireland needed to avoid so many turnovers if they were to master France in the RBS Six Nations Championship and along with you all, I suffered the heartbreak of a high error count.
England are now odds on to win the championship, but I think Les Bleus are quite a reasonable bet to prevail.
Listen it’s a big ask for them to go to Twickenham and get a result and they’ll have to improve, but it’s not inconceivable that they won’t.
But the value could be with France as England face a tough last game against us, while with respect to the Welsh, France should despatch them in Paris.
Saturday - Red Mills Trial Hurdle Gowran Park - Luska Lad
Sunday - 4pm Naas - Golden Silver