Horse Racing News – Monday 17th April 2017

Convey The Hero Of Finals Day and Yorkhill The Villain Of Gold Cup Show

All Weather Finals Day

Friday saw the culmination of the all-weather season with the annual finals day at Lingfield Park. The excellent prize money on offer once again resulted in high class action spread across the seven race card. Highlights for us were the victory of Kimbrella in the sprint, and that of Convey in the main event of the Easter Classic.

Kimbrella promised much on turf for Dandy Nicholls, without really delivering, but on this evidence, he may well have found improvement for the switch to the yard of Richard Fahey who was notching a third win in four years in this race here.

Sir Michael Stoute’s Convey meanwhile was simply too classy for his rivals in the Classic, and certainly doesn’t seem to have been done any harm by a gelding operation over the winter. Expect to see this one campaigned at Group level during the coming flat turf season where he won’t be out of place.

Yorkhill Calamitous As Respect Grabs Gold

Sunday’s big race came over in Ireland as the Ryanair Gold Cup provided the highlight of Day Two at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival. Only beaten once under rules to date, and hot on the heels of a classy display when taking the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, it was the Willie Mullins runner, Yorkhill, who started the hot favourite here.

Backers of the 4/7 jolly won’t forget this race in a hurry, but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. It would be no exaggeration to say that this was an absolute horror show of fencing from Yorkhill. Jumping dramatically left at just about every flight, and almost completely through the wing of the last – an error which jolted Ruby Walsh’s mount to walking pace – that he managed to get around at all was something of a miracle.

The fact that despite all of the above, he still only went down by a neck in a Grade 1 contest was truly remarkable. The initial reaction of connections was that it would be hurdling from here on in for the seven year old, and we can’t really blame them for not wanting to endure this nightmare-inducing performance again in a hurry.

It shouldn’t be forgotten though that Cheltenham is a left-handed track and he jumped with aplomb when winning the JLT in smooth style. He remains 8/1 third favourite for the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup, and we wouldn’t be ruling him out of that just yet were he ours.

The horse to benefit from Yorkhill’s wayward tendencies was the Noel Meade runner, Road To Respect. Fresh from a first career Graded success in the Plate at the Cheltenham Festival, the improving six year old now has a first career Grade 1 in the bag to finish his season on a high.

Grand National Fever Continues

Looking ahead to the coming week’s action, those seeking a fresh injection of Grand National excitement are set to receive a double dose, with both the Irish Grand National and the Scottish Grand National on the immediate horizon.

The irresistible combination of Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power provide the favourite for the Irish National in the form of Our Duke, but will have a 14 strong Gigginstown House Stud squadron, amongst others, to contend with.

Blaklion can be expected to go well if lining up at Ayr for the Scottish Grand National on Saturday 22nd April, but will likely face a strong challenge from defending Champion, Vicente, who will arrive a fresh horse having made it no further than the first flight at Aintree.