GOWRAN PARK Sat: We’re looking to Gowran Park this Saturday for a seven-race card, which features the Grade 2 PWC Champion Chase.
⭕ First up is a three-year-olds’ two-mile maiden hurdle (2.15pm). Only six of the 13 runners have any previous hurdle form, with many coming off the Flat and making their National Hunt debut here, so this race is a tough call. St Faz, who placed last time out, could be one for the placings, but Gordon Elliott’s Doctor Nightingale looks to have the best winning chance here, having placed on each of her four runs over hurdles. She should be able to win in this company.
⭕ Race two is a 2m4f maiden hurdle (2.50pm). With the ground due to be very testing, soft ground form should stand up the most, so Point-to-Point and bumper winner on soft Zaidi should have the best chance here. He stepped up to this trip two starts ago, running well for second place, but may find the heavy ground plays to his strengths. Gavin Cromwell’s Mint Boy looks to be a good candidate for the placings.
⭕ Next is a 2m4f handicap hurdle (3.25pm). This race doesn’t have much quality on show and, with conditions looking to be attritional, soft-ground form again looks strongest. Mythical Times has gone well in testing conditions on the Flat since moving yards so, now back to hurdles, could be our winner with the benefit of a three-pound claiming rider in the saddle. Jaariam also runs creditably on soft, so should have a chance of placing here.
⭕ A three-mile handicap hurdle follows (4.00pm). Quarry Rocco, who won a Point-to-Point in heavy conditions over this trip by 12 lengths, could be in with a chance at the placings, especially having had enough speed on better going last time out to win over 2m2f at Ballinrobe in August. Course and distance winner Walking On Glass has the pedigree to handle heavy ground and his last two efforts for fourth and fifth have been promising. With his jockey giving him five pounds, he should be able to improve for a win here.
⭕ Race five is our feature contest; the Grade 2 PWC Champion Chase (4.35pm). Envoi Allen, last year’s Grade 1 Ryanair Chase winner at Cheltenham Festival, is the highest-rated runner here by some way, consistently goes well fresh and likes soft ground, so he should be able to at least place here. Now nine years old, however, he might be vulnerable to younger, more progressive horses. Gentlemansgame, a lightly-raced seven-year-old who has been the runner up to the likes of Galopin des Champs and Gaillard Du Mesnil in the past, has always gone well fresh in top-level races in the past, so should have a good chance of winning here, with a lower weight to boot.
⭕ A 2m4f handicap chase is next (5.10pm). The improving Willywampus shouldn’t be overlooked for the places, having won last time out and placed over course and distance on testing ground last year. Irish Blaze should have a winning chance here, stepping up to a more suitable trip and with good enough previous form on softer ground. His seven-pound claiming jockey will only add to his claims.
⭕ The final race of the day is a 2m4f beginners’ chase (5.45pm). Letsbeclearaboutit has been a high-class hurdler, placing in Grade 2 races, and – coming from a top yard – should be primed and ready to step up to win here. Largy Debut hasn’t managed to get off the mark over fences in six starts but, having placed over the larger obstacles on five of these occasions, should be in line for another place, not seeming to have quite the same level of class at Letsbeclearaboutit.