Mckinley is fancied to upset his better fancied stablemate
Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle, 2m4f110y, New Course (due off 4.40pm)
This usually features a David Pipe-trained hot-pot but the trainer himself recently admitted (perhaps tongue in cheek) that he has “given up” trying to win the race named in his father’s honour. Indeed, he has just a couple of runners (Vieux Lion Rouge & Balgarry) this year, as opposed to being mob-handed, and neither are particularly fancied.
That’s perhaps a good job as the race is quickly building a reputation for producing surprise results, with just one favourite winning, Sir Des Champs (9/2), in its history. Interestingly, that horse was trained by Willie Mullins, who also saddled last year’s hero Don Poli, and punters have been quick to latch on to his stablemate Roi Des Francs, another son of (Poliglote). It’s hard to know how good he is but he’s done little wrong in four starts for Mullins, winning three and finishing second in the other, and he’s no doubt got more to offer. He is more of a chasing type and a couple of his wins have come over further than today’s trip, but it would be foolish to rule him out on that score alone. Top Price: 9/2 bet365.
Who else is fancied?
Paul Nicholls, who sent out 2013 winner Salubrious, is doubly represented by the disappointing Pearl Swan and French recruit Le Mercurey. The latter was an eye-catching third at Ascot last time and is not ruled out, despite being burdened by top weight.
Bookmakers are no taking many chances with Nicky Henderson’s Full Shift, even though he’s making his seasonal reappearance here, having been off since finishing midfield as favourite in last year’s Martin Pipe. Others are preferred.
It’s back to Mullins again as he has two other likely candidates in Mckinley, who accounted for subsequent Supreme sixth Tell Us More when landing a Grade 1 at Naas in January, and Killultagh Vic, who was beaten less than five lengths in last year’s Champion Bumper. The former horse looks the better handicapped of the pair.
Any decent outsiders?
Forthefunofit built on his third to Ulzana’s Raid over this trip here in October (Old Course) when landing a decent handicap at Huntingdon last time, and is clearly going the right way. The Huntingdon second Party Rock is 5lb better off for a one and a half length beating and may finish closer over this stiffer track.
At bigger odds, it could be worth considering Kauto Grand Mogol, a half-brother to Kauto Star, who has had a wind operation since finishing tailed off behind Roi Des Francs at Clonmel. Given he was 4/1 favourite that day and impressed when winning by 32 lengths at Thurles previously, he looks overpriced at around 40/1.
Trainer quote: “He jumps extremely well. I was worried about giving the favourite [Uranna] 15lb. I was very impressed with the way he kicked on and he’s entitled to step into graded company now.” – Liz Doyle on Kauto Grand Mogol after his Limerick win in November.
Best bookie offer
Incredibly some bookmakers are offering a stingy four places for each-way backers. I won’t name names, but you’ll be able to work it out and steer clear of them.
I’ve been fancying MCKINLEY for this all week after Mullins said he was well treated on a mark 5lb lower than his Irish rating, and I’m a big fan of his jockey Johnny Burke too. Some rain would help his cause and that of KAUTO GRAND MOGUL, who simply has to be backed each-way at 40/1.