Wednesday 22 January 2020

Respect Noel's chance with top talent Road

Meade's star can turn the tables on last year's Savills winner

Road To Respect and Sean Flanagan winning at Down Royal in November. Pic: Patrick McCann
Road To Respect and Sean Flanagan winning at Down Royal in November. Pic: Patrick McCann

We have an excellent renewal of the Savills Chase at Leopardstown this afternoon, with Punchestown Gold Cup hero Kemboy making his return to the track bidding to go back-to-back in this race.

Willie Mullins' top-class chaser is many people's idea of the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner in March - and while he may well be king of the hill in the spring, he might find things tough today.

Eight line up in opposition and the Presenting Percy fan club will be out in force after his eye-catching John Durkan third, but the pair may have to cede to Noel Meade, Sean Flanagan and ROAD TO RESPECT (3.10, Leopardstown).

In this race last year he had a nightmare run when stumbling a couple of times and was then short for room at the last, so it was a minor miracle he got to within seven or eight lengths of Kemboy, who had everything drop for him at the head of affairs.

There really isn't that much between the pair, despite Kemboy being rated officially 8lbs better. And with Road To Respect having a fitness advantage having won at the top level in Down Royal last month (beating King George hero Clan Des Obeaux in the process), the selection looks value at 9/2.

CANARDIER (1.25, Leopardstown) was desperately unlucky not to open his account over fences at Navan a few weeks ago, but he can make amends in what, admittedly, looks a strong Ballymaloe Foods Beginners Chase.

Mullins' Allaho will be popular on his novice hurdle form, but Canardier was a rock solid handicapper last season and went close in some big races.

He did win a competitive race at Cheltenham last year and it was only really the ground turning against him that scuppered his chances in the Coral Cup at the Festival.

Connections think the world of him and he jumped well in the main at Navan so with the ground drying out a touch on the chase course he can spring a bit of a mini surprise.

Jack Kennedy was in inspired form yesterday when booting Roaring Bull home in the Paddy Power Chase and he rides DALTON HIGHWAY (2.35, Leopardstown) for master trainer Dermot Weld in the Irish Daily Star Christmas Handicap Hurdle.

A smart performer on the Flat, he has finished placed in four Premier Handicaps this year, including at the Galway Festival, the Cesarewitch and the November Handicap.

That said, he hasn't cut the mustard when running over hurdles, but a mark of 111 looks exploitable to say the least and he can break his jumping duck.

There is further Grade One action at Newbury, where last season's Champion Bumper third THYME HILL (3.00, Newbury) should prove very difficult to beat.

The form of the Bumper is working out extremely well, with the likes of Envoi Allen and Abacradabras looking top talents, and Thyme Hill has been very smart himself since going jumping.

He has already bagged a pair of Grade Twos, at Cheltenham and at Chepstow, and looks the only British novice so far who can potentially give Envoi Allen a run for his money later in the season.

Even though he is dropping back in trip for today's contest, the Challow is always won by one with plenty of stamina and will be again this afternoon.

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