And now it’s the Dublin Racing Festival (DRF) that is firmly in the form book… another vital checkpoint as we barrel our way headlong towards the 2023 Cheltenham Festival…
In the wake of the DRF news broke late yesterday evening that reigning and dual Champion Hurdler HONEYSUCKLE will NOT be going to the race this year, she will be passing up the chance to go for Champion Hurdle immortality, and will instead be heading to the Mares Hurdle (a race Honeysuckle won in 2020)… which in my opinion is an insane choice!
I’d get it if Honeysuckle had returned this season and was struggling away out the back and finishing with the stragglers… but she isn’t! She was beaten just under 5L by STATE MAN on Sunday and finished around 2.5L behind TEAHUPOO on seasonal debut, Teahupoo who went out and won a G2 by 15L next time out!
It’s madness to pass up a Champion Hurdle hat-trick opportunity… MADNESS! Something I had a bit of a rant about in Champion Hurdle Racing Podblast episode, which you can catch here if you are still to listen (Honeysuckle bit is around 7 minutes in if you just want to skip to that part).
I’ll have more on the DRF in tomorrow’s Queen Mother Champion Chase PodBlast (follow the PodBlast here so you don’t miss future episodes) and I will also have a free blog later on this week looking at DRF runners and how they get on at the Cheltenham Festival.
For now though it’s the latest set of ‘Three To Follow From The Weekend‘ runners…
Three to follow from the Weekend: 3rd, 4th & 5th February…
RED ROOKIE (E Lavelle)
3rd in C2 Handicap Chase – 145 Sandown (Saturday 4th Feb)
A decent effort back down in trip and he’d be worth keeping on the radar going forward as he is now in his Prime Months and I’d have Prime Conditions for him as…
Jan-March | 2m1f or less = 3F1111 (4/6, 1p – all 4 career wins – F came when outclassed in the G1 Arkle)
He went down 1lb to OR 137 for this effort and that should be a mark he can defy, providing they don’t set their sights too high with him.
MONMIRAL (P Nicholls)
4th in G1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase – 220 Sandown (Saturday 4th Feb)
Seems to be struggling a little bit to get his head in front as he’s not won since landing the G1 Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree in 2021 (7 runs ago).
Paul Nicholls seems to think he’ll be a horse that needs a trip in time and 3m+ will be his preferable distance so it could just be that he needs this season to strengthen up and find his stamina boots.
He was dropped 3lb for this run (OR 148 down to OR 145) and that makes him of potential interest in a handicap chase of some sorts before seasons end. I think in time he will prove plenty better than this effort, for all it was a solid enough figure he posted on the Proform Speed Figure scale, in what I suspect will prove to be a strong renewal of the Scilly Isles.
FIDELIO VALLIS (H Derham)
2nd in C3 Scottish Champion Chase – 155 Musselburgh (Sunday 5th Feb)
A fine first effort for his new trainer Harry Derham and he’s picked up a well-handicapped type here and one who is currently in his Prime Months…
2111111 (6/7, 1p) in the Feb-May period compared to 4722442F (0/8) all other months
He’s a horse I had previously noted when with Paul Nicholls as… ‘possibly doesn’t like Very Undulating tracks – possibly best on RH tracks (can jump/hang to right)‘
…and I’d still hold those thoughts.
He should be an interesting one for Derham and one who should come on plenty for Sunday’s run, being it was his first for 410 days.
Cheers – Ben (NTF)
p.s. you can grab all previous NTF Blog posts HERE