We’re about to head into the fourth consecutive day of ITV racing with today’s horse racing coming from Leopardstown. The feature race is the Matheson Hurdle where we get to see Willie Mullin’s smart hurdler State Man with a brace of races coming from Doncaster. So, let’s dive in and take a look at my favourite ITV racing tips for today.
ITV Racing Tips (29/12/22)
Six mares go to post for this grade 3 Beatthebank.ie Irish EBF Mares Hurdle. In what amounts to a match between Willie Mullins’s Shewearsitwell and Gordon Elliott’s Queens Brook it’s maybe the latter that can come out on top. She was good enough to finish runner-up in the Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last March and despite a poor re-appearance where she probably needed the run she bounced back to form with an emphatic victory at Punchestown last month. Elliott was talking her up at the start of the season to such an extent that I have an ante-post voucher here for her to win this season’s renewal at 25/1.
Shewearsitwell hails from the very much-in-form Willie Mullins stable and getting 3lb from the selection will be no pushover. In fact, at today’s weights, she comes out a three-pound better horse than Queens Brook. The other four runners just don’t look good enough and it would be no surprise to see the main pair fight this out over the last two hurdles with hopefully Elliott’s charge ridden by Jack Kennedy getting her head in front where it matters.
QUEENS BROOK 2 points win @ 10/11 Paddy Power
With the late defection of Might Potter this grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase run over three miles now has only seven starters. Willie Mullins is on fire at the moment and his second-season chaser Gaillard Du Mesnil is looking to make it seventh time lucky over fences under Paul Townend.
He’s been placed on all six starts over fences behind the likes of L’Homme Presse in last season’s Brown Advisory at Cheltenham and when third in the Irish Grand National and this looks like an ideal opportunity for the Paul Townend-ridden six-year-old grey to open his account over the bigger obstacles.
His biggest threat is likely to come from the Gordon Elliott-trained Three Stripe Life whose latest effort when pulling up in the Drinmore Novices’ Chase at Fairyhouse can easily be forgotten as his jockey Davy Russell had to deal with a slipping saddle. He had previously looked a useful recruit to the novice chase game when winning easily at Naas and will give my selection a race. The other five contestants would need to improve to worry the big two here.
GAILLARD DU MESNIL 2 points win @ 6/5 bet365
Only five go to post for this two-mile grade one Matheson Hurdle which looks destined to go to the Closutton base of Willie Mullins as he saddles three of the quintet. That trio all raced against each other last time out when the Paul Townend-ridden State Man came home 4L to the good over Sharjah with Saldier a further 3 3/4L back in third. With the conditions likely to be similar I don’t see the result being any different today.
State Man was a progressive hurdler last season who took the County Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham prior to winning a grade one novice hurdle at the Punchestown Festival the following month. He may end up the only danger to the freak that is Constitution Hill come March in the Champion Hurdle.
Sharjah has won the race for the last four years but will be ten years old next week and would have needed to have improved significantly for that re-appearance run to worry the favourite here.
Gordon Elliott’s Piped Piper appears to have it to do whilst Norman Lee’s She Is Electric is totally out of her depth. One for your accumulator bets today is State Man.
A three-mile class 3 handicap chase is up next and has attracted a field of eleven. Alex Hales has an interesting brace of runners here in Omar Maretti who was last seen pulling up in the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival in March having previously won two handicap chases. If fit he’s got a chance along with his stable mate Boldmere who actually won this race for Caroline Bailey three years ago off of a higher handicap mark. A market move would be very significant for the nine-year-old on his first run for Hales following a 607-day layoff.
There are many others with chances including top-weight Gesskille who’s finished runner-up twice over the Grand National fences this season whilst Coeur Serein ran well last time for Jonjo O’Neill’s stable. A horse who is well handicapped and worth a small each way interest is the Kerry Lee-trained Storm Control. The nine-year-old is on the same handicap mark as when winning at Newbury in a similar contest last January and wasn’t totally disgraced in the Paddy Power Handicap Chase last time finishing 8th beaten some 16L. In a very competitive handicap, I’ll take a chance and back him small each way in his first-time visor.
STORM CONTROL 1/2 point each way @ 16/1 Betfred 1/5th 123
A bumper field of sixteen line up for this 2m 4F Novices Handicap Hurdle where the market will likely be very informative with seven of the field making their handicap debuts. In the absence of any early market moves, it may be worth chancing the Charlie Byrnes-trained Green Glory. A bumper winner at Punchestown in April, the five-year-old gelding has shown promise in four starts over hurdles and a mark of only 111 may well be very much on the lenient side.
Henry De Bromhead’s top-weight Spirit Of Legend had his Navan maiden hurdle win boosted by the runner-up winning by 16L since and is a horse to keep on the right side under Rachael Blackmore. It’s a contest not to get too involved with but I can’t resist a small wager on Charlie Byrne’s Green Glory who could have been mapped out for handicaps in typical Byrnes fashion.
GREEN GLORY 1 point win @ 4/1 bet365
Only five mares go to post for this 2m 4 1/2F listed mares chase where favourite Zambella will be hard to beat. Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and racing in the double green silks of owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede she has the clear beating of rivals Maid O’Malley and Annie Mc on Carlisle running from 32 days ago and even though the latter may have needed the outing (her first for 358 days) Zambella can confirm the form here. Venetia Williams’ Pink Legend was soundly beaten on her re-appearance in the Peterborough Chase 25 days ago but is better than that and could be the one to chase her home.
ZAMBELLA 2 points win @ 6/5 William Hill