Racing Expert & Columnist
Alex Hammond Blog: Good Friday Tips and Irish Grand National Preview
Last Updated: 16/04/19 9:54am
Alex Hammond looks ahead to the Good Friday action at Lingfield and previews the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.
How do you reflect on last weekend's Classic Trials - should Too Darn Hot be quaking in his boots?
No, not yet, certainly not with the domestic trials we have seen so far.
It's really unfortunate that Too Darn Hot suffered that small setback (heat in a splint bone on the inside of his front leg), but he's in great hands to go straight to the 2000 Guineas without a run and John Gosden's Champion Two-Year-Old is now a 13/8 shot with Sky Bet for the colt's Classic at Newmarket on May 4.
Let's hope his problem hasn't caused him to miss too much serious work because he'll have to be on his A-game to maintain his unbeaten record.
There was a rather taking performance in France at the weekend, though. Sky Sports Racing viewers will have seen Persian King win the Prix de Fontainebleau at Longchamp in impressive fashion for trainer Andre Fabre and the master trainer hasn't ruled out a tilt at Newmarket rather than staying at home for the French Guineas.
The son of Kingman is owned by Godolphin and whether he lines up or not depends on a couple of factors. Zakouski and Royal Marine are also owned by Sheikh Mohammed's racing operation and they are set to run in the Craven Stakes at Newmarket this week, so keep your eyes peeled for them.
The weather in France could also have some bearing on the decision, as Fabre said if the rain came in France then he would rather go to Newmarket with his imposing looking colt.
He is currently 8/1 for the 2000 Guineas and will have no problems with conditions on the Rowley Mile as he won over the Guineas course and distance in the Autumn Stakes back in October.
If he goes to Newmarket he'll pose a serious threat to the favourite.
There's another cracking Good Friday in store with All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield - what should we be looking out for?
I've been lucky enough to see this event grow over the years and have been at Finals Day for the past few years thanks to my At The Races work.
It's the first time now for us on Sky Sports Racing and there is much to look forward to as the All Weather scene has really grown in stature since the inception of these championships back in 2013.
We now have the pleasure of seeing some seriously highly-rated horses contesting these races over the winter months and I won't be surprised if some of the horses that we see on Good Friday end up competing in races at the highest level later in the year.
One such animal is Wissahickon and you regular readers of this blog will know I've been a huge fan of John Gosden's horse for some time.
I remember tipping him up when he won at Lingfield back in May 2018 and have followed his progress closely since. There have been some lucrative days, too, notably when he won the Cambridgeshire easily last September and to have him contesting Finals Day is a real thrill for me, I can't wait to see him strut his stuff again.
Needless to say he hasn't been anything like the 11/1 SP he was at Newmarket since then, but he's a proper little racing model and combined with Frankie Dettori, he the star attraction for me in the Easter Classic.
It's not a one horse meeting, though, I'm also looking forward to seeing the Tom Dascombe-trained speedball Kachy in the Sprint Championships, he's an incredible performer. What he has achieved on the all-weather is impressive, not just by winning, but the manner he has done it in.
Poor Gorgeous Noora saw the back of him in the Cleves Stakes in February and her trainer Archie Watson is sensibly avoiding a rematch and going for the Fillies' and Mares' Championships instead.
She has to prove she can stretch out over the extra furlong (7f) in this race, but I'm hoping there could be a bit more to come from her.
She has been covered by Tweenhills-based stallion Zoustar and all being well is in foal. There is apparently no scientific evidence that mares run better in the early stages of pregnancy, but despite the lack of a scientific study, it does seem to improve some of them.
I'm hoping that she is blooming and can win for her in-form stable. She's 7/1 with Sky Bet.
Interestingly, the same part-owners (David Redvers and Davis Howden) also have Castle Hill Cassie entered in the race (she has the option of the Mile) and she is also in foal to Zoustar; he's been a busy boy!
One other piece of advice, don't underestimate the French raiders - they made fools of us 12 months ago and the horses they send over aren't coming for the boat ride.
What is your ante post fancy for Easter Monday's Irish Grand National?
The weather between now and then will have a bearing on things and there is a band of rain sweeping across Ireland this week, in fact at the time of writing some of it had arrived which is good news for Fairyhouse and good news for my main selection.
I'm mad keen on Discorama, but his trainer Paul Nolan has issued a weather warning and said he may bypass the race if there is 'good' in the going description.
That is hopefully looking less likely with the ground described on Tuesday as yielding, good to yielding in places.
Let's hope there's more to come. Here are my reasons for having him at the top of my shortlist.
He was my selection in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and I'm hoping he's had enough time to freshen up for this challenge.
He's an exciting novice chaser and it looks like a matter of time before he gets the big-race win he deserves. He's a 10/1 shot with Sky Bet, so start doing your rain dance.
Another horse that could do with a bit of give in the ground is the Noel Meade-trained Tout Est Permis, albeit his last two wins have come on ground officially described as good.
He's a 14/1 shot with Sky Bet. He's been a revelation since joining Meade back in October, winning all three starts. He looks to be crying out for this sort of trip and there should be more to come from him as he's still just six years old.