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A Plus Tard, State Man & One At Gowran Park

Brian Hayes for Bookies.com

Brian Hayes  | 5 mins

A Plus Tard, State Man & One At Gowran Park

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It has been a quiet week or so for me after Ballyshannon Rose’s great run last Thursday behind Dolcita. That is racing, as they say, and you must keep kicking.

It was an eventful weekend in general, and it was nice to see Kilcruit do on the racecourse what he had been showing me at home. I was impressed by his schooling in Closutton as I said last week, and he was a comfortable winner on Saturday.

Obviously, Kilcruit had an extremely easy task in the end, but he can only beat what is in front of him. He is a lovely tall horse, and fences should bring out the best of him so look out for him in future races with horse racing betting sites.


Gold Cup Picture Wide Open

I was confident in my first blog for Bookies.com that A Plus Tard should be the clear favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, so like everyone connected with the horse, I was incredibly surprised by his poor showing on Saturday at Haydock.

It was just too bad to be true and has left everyone scratching their heads.

Rachael said he has never felt as he did that day. He did not really want to line up, and it was a big effort to try to get him interested in any part of the race. That is a worry for them all going forward, as it was reported afterwards that nothing was found to be clinically wrong with A Plus Tard.

Henry and his team have a bit of a retrieval mission now with him, but they are particularly adept at bringing one back to their best, and I can see no reason this would not happen again. Davy Roche, the assistant trainer down there, is a huge part of that process, and he will get to the bottom of it all!

It is an open Gold Cup picture with betting sites anyway, that is for sure!

Man States His Champion Hurdle Claims

State Man has always been highly thought of at home, and he did what he had to at the weekend when taking the Morgiana Hurdle for Paul.

It probably was not a vintage renewal, but State Man was stepping up to a higher grade than he had before, and I thought he looked at ease. Whilst he did not blow me away, there is a big possibility he should improve for that run as he probably travelled too well in the race.

When I say he “travelled too well”, I mean he was using too much petrol throughout the race and was overexerting himself when he did not need to be. State Man will learn to relax a bit more with experience you would hope, and the sky is the limit once he does. He beat two very good horses easily, so he is definitely a player in the Champion Hurdle market!

I would have this division between State Man, Constitution Hill and, of course, the unbeaten Honeysuckle. Willie Mullins said last week that Honeysuckle is the value in the market at the moment, and it’s hard to disagree with him. 

She has simply been brilliant and just keeps winning. They all have a lot to do to catch her, but she has two proper rivals now.

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What has really struck me is the manner Nicky Henderson speaks about Constitution Hill. He never hides how much he loves him, and for a trainer of that standing to speak so glowingly about his charge speaks volumes. If I were lucky enough to have my pick in the division, I think I would pick him as a result of that!

Sticking with the championship races over hurdles, I was disappointed with Flooring Porter earlier this month, and I wonder if this is the year they finally catch him in the Stayers’ Hurdle?

It is a division we’ve yet to really get to the bottom of, but I thought Home By The Lee was still improving based on his last run, and 16/1 for the Stayers’ at the Cheltenham Festival could be big!

Of the others last weekend, I was particularly taken by Irish Point who won at Cork on Sunday. He still has a lot to learn, but he looked particularly good. He has the right name for a career in National Hunt racing, and on that evidence, he has the ability to boot.

The Weekend Ahead

At the time of writing, I am still firming up my rides for the weekend, but I am looking forward to getting back on Carrolls Cottage at Gowran Park on Saturday. He is only six years old and can still improve as the seasons go on. Off a mark of 120, he has room to manoeuvre. 

At his best, he would have every chance on Saturday, but he may end up needing the run. I do think there is a decent handicap in him over fences, and he is one to keep in mind as the season rolls on.

Away from myself, I am really looking forward to the aforementioned Constitution Hill taking on Epatante at Newcastle. We can see how good he really is!

About the Author

Brian Hayes for Bookies.com
Brian Hayes
Brian Hayes is a leading Irish jockey based with the Willie Mullins yard and regular rider at all the big national hunt racing festivals including Galway, Punchestown Aintree and Cheltenham. The Cork native has ridden high in the riding ranks despite not hailing from a racing background and quickly becoming a relied on partner for some of the best horses in top training yards.