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Commercial to get off to a flyer

Sport
Commercial to get off to a flyer

Michael Duffy

THE reminiscing which took place recently after the death of Desert Orchid really brought home to those outside of horse racing how much of a sporting star the big grey was during his heyday.
Once every couple of seasons a horse comes along which transcends the sport and grabs the headlines on the sporting back pages. It certainly looks like this generation could be citing Kauto Star as the superstar.
It has been a long time since a horse has yo-yoed between Grade 1 two miles races and Grade 1 three mile races and shown his rivals such disdain. Of course, the great Best Mate brought us many hours of entertainment in the last five years, but outside of his Gold Cup victories, he was beaten by Florida Pearl in a King George, Jair Du Cochet in a Peterborough Chase and Beef or Salmon in a Lexus Chase, so his weaknesses were shown on more than one occasion.
At the moment, Kauto Star simply looks invincible and looking back through his form there are definite excuses for his defeats since he arrived from France. However, one word of warning. He has to get out of the habit of brushing through the top of some of his fences, especially at Kempton and Cheltenham where the obstacles are far less forgiving than at Sandown.
The awful weather conditions deprived us of some top class action at Fairyhouse at the weekend but both Star de Mohaison and Labelthou were impressive at Newbury on Friday. I backed the latter at 66/1 for the Ballymore Novice Hurdle (formally the Sun Alliance Hurdle) at Cheltenham and she is now just 20/1 with Cashman’s after her easy defeat of Granit Jack.
There is a host of quality racing this week with the rescheduled Hatton Grace and Drinmore Chase at Fairyhouse on Wednesday. It’s no easier picking the winner of the Drinmore four days later but I’m siding with Mossbank, who got mugged on the line at Cork but was impressive at Clonmel. In truth, a case could be made for all 13 entrants.
It’s hard to see pass Asian Maze in the Hatton Grace as he gets five pounds from Al Eile and Brave Inca and this 2m 4f distance could be his optimum.
It’s back to the Cotswolds for more top quality action on Friday where Standin Obligation can enhance his Sun Alliance chances with victory in the opening novice chase. The Reverend could be the main danger. Kicks for Free should also enhance his reputation in the closing novice hurdle where Ship’s Hill could be the main danger.
On Saturday, a lot of Triumph contenders go to post for the Juvenile Novice Hurdle. On the whole, this bunch haven’t really impressed me and if Jonjo O’Neill’s recruit from Aidan O’Brien, Mountain, can jump a hurdle then he could be worth taking a chance on. His best piece of form was a second to Dylan Thomas in the Derrinstown and there is no doubting he will be interesting to keep an eye on.
The boylesports.com Gold Cup is a cracking handicap where a whole host of horses look well in at the weights. Taranis, Kill Devil Hill and down at the bottom, Pearly Jack, could all make the frame but I am siding with the hugely talented but quirky Commercial Flyer. Remember he was backed off the boards to go off favourite for the Sun Alliance and if he gets his jumping together then he looks like the winner. Reveillez and Paddy Power Gold Cup winner are other obvious chances.
The International Hurdle looks likely to be a match between Detroit City and Hardy Eustace and I am inclined to side with the experience here. Dessie Hughes’ two-time Champion Hurdler looked back to his best last time out and for me, Detroit City has yet to really be tested.
Finally, the John Durkan Memorial Chase takes centre stage on Sunday with War of Attrition likely to go off a short priced favourite. However, he is opposable at this shorter distance and the one I fancy to turn him over is Michael O’Brien’s In Compliance, who won as he liked at Down Royal and has plenty of scope as a second season chaser.

Selections
Wednesday
Mossbank, Fairyhouse, 1.35
Asian Maze, Fairyhouse, 2.05

Friday
Standin Obligation, Cheltenham, 12.10
Kicks for Free, Cheltenham, 3.40

Saturday
Mountain, Cheltenham, 12.20
Commercial Flyer, Cheltenham, 2.40
Hardy Eustace, Cheltenham, 3.15

Sunday
In Compliance, Punchestown, 2.05

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