The big freeze is forecast to give way on Saturday, with jumps racing ready to recommence after a hiatus since Tuesday.
Buveur D’air will star at Sandown in the Contenders Hurdle – and should be winning handily – while there’s also Grade 1 action aplenty at the Dublin Racing Festival in Ireland over two days.
Apple’s Jade and Min win double @ 47/20
Apple’s Jade and Min are proven top-tier performers and are fancied to showcase their ability on Saturday at Leopardstown.
The mare Apple’s Jade can increase the Cheltenham clamour around her target by taking out the Irish Champion Hurdle.
At seven years of age, she has looked better than ever this season in winning three from three. She drops back to two miles here, the only apparent concern, but is tipped to take care of Supasundae and Melon en route to the 10th Grade 1 score of her career.
Min, meanwhile, has few questions to answer in seeking back-to-back wins in the Dublin Chase. He swatted aside old rival Simply Ned 12 months ago and should have his measure again.
Saint Calvados is an improving sort with potential although he may suffer in contesting the lead early doors. Victorious in the John Durkan before Christmas, Min is the class act and can take this for trainer Willie Mullins.
Praeceps – 12.40 Sandown @ 9/2
Betting opportunities at Sandown are harder to come by. Buveur D’air looks unopposable in the Contenders Hurdle at long odds-on.
The Scilly Isles Novices Chase looks a cracking contest but isn’t one for punters, as a case can be made for almost every runner in the line-up.
In the first race, Alan King’s Praeceps can open his account at the second time of asking. He ran second behind a rival with useful experience at Newbury last month on his first outing over timber and should improve for that run.
A three-time Flat winner for Sir Mark Prescott, that first-time effort was laced with promise and, getting weight from his rivals, Praeceps can be hard to hold this time.
Mitchouka – 2.00 Leopardstown @ 40/1
A little bit of a chance is taken with Gordon Elliott’s Mitchouka in what is an ultra-competitive handicap hurdle.
He was a progressive novice over timber last season, winning a graded contest at Fairyhouse over 2m on soft going in February before struggling later in the year.
This season the Gigginstown-owned Mitchouka embarked on a chasing career and, after a slow start, he’s been finding his feet in running well behind the likes of Getabird and Paloma Blue.
Rated 137 over hurdles, this is an interesting race to see him popping up in. He can be competitive from that mark and is also boosted by a handy 7lb claim in the saddle. Both of which are reasons to believe he can outrun a massive price.
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