No Problem Backing Against Blazer
“He looked like he was only after joining in at the final bend”. That was the old chestnut thrown out after Blazer ran out an impressive winner of the 1888 Restaurant Handicap Hurdle at Leopardstown last Saturday. And it was true.
Blazer For Betfair Hurdle?
Barry Geraghty had a handful going to the last hurdle and he went away in an easy manner to beat Mighty Concorde by three and a half lengths without any fuss.
The Irish handicapper, Noel O’Brien, has given Blazer (7/2) a 12lbs hike for that win but tomorrow he’ll have to carry just a 5lb mandatory penalty so providing he was fit and well it was only natural that connections would have a go at the £85,000 prize on offer when he seemingly has 7lbs in hand.
The fact that he is reappearing so quick is not solely down to him being ‘well in’ but he has obviously pleased the team at Closutton with how he came out of his Leopardstown race or else they wouldn’t be sending him over. Although, is he as much of a certainty as people are making out? I’m not so sure.
Of course I wouldn’t be shocked if he came out and won again, but I have no problem backing against him tomorrow.
Last Saturday we saw some funny results thrown up at Leopardstown and a lot of them were put down to the ground. Any trainer will tell you that heavy conditions like that can often take more out of a horse than it looks and that is a fear on this occasion. He clearly relishes the testing conditions but whether he’s able to step up again in a tougher race and put up a career best display on very testing ground at Newbury, I’m just not certain.
I also wouldn’t be reading too much into the fact that it is rare for Willie Mullins to send a winner out again so quick. The opportunity for Willie to do it is rare as most of his horses run in maidens, conditions races or graded races and by their very nature, they don’t need to reappear within a short space of time. Although I do remember him running Clondaw Warrior under a mandatory penalty and he got beat with 18lbs in hand of the handicapper!
Big Priced Winner
The horse who I think can pick up the pieces if Blazer cannot defy the quick turnaround is the Nick Williams-trained Agrapart (20/1).
The five-year-old was last seen behind Yorkhill in Grade One company when finishing third in the Tolworth Hurdle.
Coming out of small fields and into handicap company is a different proposition but I think he could run a big race at 20/1.
Lizzie Kelly is full of confidence at the moment and takes 5lbs off and the horse was far from disgraced behind Yorkhill and O O Seven at Sandown last month, with the runner-up coming out to win the Albert Bartlett Trial at Musselburgh last weekend.
Ivan Grozny (33/1) is a horse I could see run better than his odds suggest for Willie Mullins and Sternrubin (8/1) was tough as teak when dead-heating in the Ladbroke at Ascot and warrants loads of respect although Ladbroke winners have a poor record in this race.
*Prices correct at time of publication