Fairyhouse Preview and Betting Tips for Sunday 4th December
11.55am – Optional can be right in the Mix in Fairyhouse opener
A compelling days racing gets underway with an intriguing Mares Handicap Chase over two and a half miles. Minx Tiara sets the standards on official ratings, whilst Malina Girl has been in fine form of late, running extremely well at Cheltenham on her last start. Optional Mix 7/2 is another mare who comes into this in great form having finished in the first four on her last five starts. She kicked off her campaign with a couple of placed efforts in behind Motown Maggie and Gevrey before getting her head in front last time out. The form of that win is yet to really be tested but she did finish in front of Railway Hurricane on her penultimate start and that rival has since run a fantastic race behind the smart Unanswered Prayers at Cheltenham. Raised just 5lbs for her latest success, I think Optional Mix can continue her fine run of from and I would be disappointed if she can’t be competitive here.
12.25pm – Exciting Grade 3 Juvenile can go to Lossiemouth
The incredibly exciting Lossiemouth 5/2 puts her lofty reputation on the line in the Grade 3 Bar One Racing Price Boost Juvenile Hurdle over two miles. Her price for the Triumph Hurdle has tumbled down in recent months and the talk seems to be that Ricci and Mullins have another exciting mare on their hands. Her sole French start was an impressive ten length success, and you would have be extremely taken by the way she travelled powerfully through the race and shot clear up the straight. Interestingly Paul Townend has opted to ride impressive course and distance winner Zarak The Brave but I wouldn’t read too much into that. Due to race conditions, and mainly the Fillies allowance, Lossiemouth carries ten stone and three pounds, which is the lowest weight Townend has hit in the last twelve months. It may well be at this time of year, he doesn’t deem it necessary to get down to that weight and subsequently Danny Mullins has the ride, which is by no means a negative for Lossiemouth’s chances. Common Practice was visually very good last weekend, and it is intriguing to see connections opt for a relatively quick turnaround. He has more on his plate here in what looks a potentially very hot contest. Receiving plenty of weight all round, I will side with Lossiemouth to lay down a marker in the Juvenile division.
12.55pm – Unexposed filly can thrive over marathon trip
A stamina sapping Grade B Handicap Chase over three miles and five furlongs is next up on the card. Lord Lariat sets the clear standard on form and ratings after a fine win in last season’s Irish Grand National. He warmed up for this with a good pipe opener behind Galvin at Punchestown over an inadequate three miles. I expect him to improve plenty for that and despite carrying top weight, can be competitive. Western Zara 8/1 interested me for the Paul Nolan team. She could easily have run in the mares’ handicap earlier on the card, but Nolan has opted to come here in favour of a huge step up in trip. She contested a very good-looking Mares Chase last time out behind the likes of Dolcita, Scarlet And Dove and Elimay. She plugged on to be fifth that day and certainly shaped to my eye as if a staying trip could bring about further improvement. With winning course form in the book, we know she goes well at the track and with just eight starts under rules she remains lightly raced and completely unexposed over these sorts of trips.
1.25pm – Kiely can be crowned Champ in competitive Royal Bond
The first of a trio of Grade 1s on the card is the two-mile Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle. Won by the likes of Nicholls Canyon, Jezki, Hurricane Fly, Moscow Flyer and Istabraaq, many a winner of this contest has gone on to become a household name. The last eight renewals have unsurprisingly been won by either Mullins or Elliott and Willie has the favourite for this year’s contest in the shape of Champ Kiely 7/4. He put Brazil in his place last time out and that form was nicely franked when Brazil defeated Triumph Hurdle runner up Fil Dor on his next start. Champ Kiely looks an uncomplicated sort and the way he attacked the final few flights of hurdles last time out really impressed me. Marine Nationale looks the main danger and falls into the category of could be anything, but his form has taken a knock with the likes of Demandrivingdouvan being beaten since. Irish Point and Path D’oroux are classy individuals but will have to improve again if they are to take this on just their second hurdles start. Ashroe Diamond was workmanlike on her hurdles debut but that looked a potentially useful contest, and she could be dangerous in receipt of weight. I have really liked what I’ve seen from Champ Kiely so far and I think his slight edge on the experience front could prove crucial.
1.55pm – I hope to see some magic from Potter
Gordon Elliott has farmed the Bar One Racing Drinmore Novice Chase over the past 11 seasons, collecting the Grade 1 prize on six separate occasions. Having saddled the likes of Don Cassack to success in 2013 and more recently Envoi Allen in 2019, Gordon sends both Three Stripe Life and Mighty Potter 4/1. Three Stripe Life looks a three miler to me, and I would be keen to take him on after a careful round of jumping on chase debut. Mighty Potter got the better of Three Stripe Life over hurdles and I would expect him to have a better turn of foot at the trip. He will have learnt plenty from a novicey chase debut, and will no doubt be a much better horse sitting in behind a strong pace. Banbridge is likely to set that pace and looks a rock-solid option. He has clearly improved for fences, and it will be interesting to see if that progression has taken him past classier hurdlers. Tommys Oscar didn’t exactly frank his form in the Fighting Fifth, so we still don’t really know what he has beaten. Gaillard Du Mesnil is a fascinating runner for Willie Mullins, but I think he wants a staying trip and will find at least a couple of these too fast. I think Banbridge will make this a good test and I believe the race could be run to suit Mighty Potter. He should have plenty of cover and given he can avoid the odd shuddering error; I think he possesses the gears to out kick his rival’s close home.
2.30pm – Bob can chase home the history making Honeysuckle
Racing’s golden girl, Honeysuckle 4/11, bids to make history in this seasons Hatton’s Grace Hurdle by becoming the first horse to win the illustrious Grade 1 four times. She’s one of the all-time great mares and should take the world of beating. Her form over two and a half miles is arguably stronger than her form at two miles. Three wins in this contest and an exceptional defeat of Benie Des Dieux in the 2020 Mares Hurdle prove she is just as effective over the intermediate trip. Klassical Dream is rated just two pounds below the great mare but conceding weight due to the mares’ allowance and over an inadequate trip are far from ideal. I don’t believe Honeysuckle is a great betting proposition at her current price, but I would fancy Ashdale Bob 20/1 to potentially follow her home. His profile is a model of consistency, and he had a good reappearance in the Lismullen Hurdle three weeks ago. That was a hot contest and given he comes on for the run, I would fancy him to finish best of the rest.
3.05pm – JP pair against the field in tricky handicap hurdle
The penultimate race of the day is a fiercely competitive two-mile handicap hurdle where a big field of nineteen are set to go to post. JP Mcmanus owns two runners and I quite like the chances of both. Icare Allen 5/1 has obvious claims at the top of the market after an excellent fourth in a red-hot Triumph Hurdle. Pied Piper, Fil Dor and Il Etait Temps have all come out and won impressively since so there is every chance Icare Allen is a good bit better than his mark of 140. In a race of this nature, he is short enough for some and I thought Charli Parcs 22/1 was eye catching at a much bigger price. Formerly trained by Nicky Henderson, many thought Charli Parcs could be the next Altior or Buveur d’Air. He has fallen a long way short of those expectations, but I do think he’s on a mark where he could be about to strike. He finished sixth off a two-pound higher mark in a similar contest at Listowel in September before failing to see out two and a half miles on his next start. Dropped back to two miles and a furlong for his last start, Charli Parcs finished fourth, beaten just over four lengths. He clearly isn’t the force people expected him to be, but he’s been running to a level where I think he may just be about to capitalise on a falling mark. At 22/1, he’s certainly an each way player.
3.35pm – Champion Bumper favourite can enhance his claims
The future stars of the game get a chance to shine in the final race of the day, a bumper over two miles. Better Days Ahead was turned over on debut at Down Royal but I don’t believe the race was run to suit and the form wouldn’t be that bad with the winner going in again. He didn’t appear to be a speedy type and with just the six runners confirmed for this there’s no guarantee of a good gallop this time around. Chapeau De Soleil 4/7 dons the silks of a certain Rich Ricci and has been subject to plenty of support in the Champion Bumper market. Patrick Mullins has spoken highly of him, and his Point-to-Point footage was impressive. If he is going to be a contender come March, I would hope he may have too many gears for Better Days Ahead who I wouldn’t be surprised to see tackle hurdles sooner rather than later!
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