RACING AHEAD: Irish horses to follow

Racing Ahead with Tony McCormick
Racing Ahead with Tony McCormick

Racing pundit Tony McCormick from presents his weekly column, this week Tony updates his Irish Horses To Follow column from November.

Bachasson, a French import has won all four hurdle starts including a Grade 3 Novice Hurdle at Tipperary in October. He was then seen finishing quarter-of-a-length down to stable-mate Long Dog on soft ground at the end of November, before bombing out in the Grade 1 Future Champions Hurdle at Leopardstown, finishing 10-and-a-half lengths behind the same stablemate on terribly heavy ground.

Unfortunately, being patient is a phrase you can never have sat beside the name Willie Mullins these days. Add to that, Ruby Walsh deserted him on both occasions, and it highlights the possibility the five-year-old has gone backwards since his last win.

If Bachasson does turn up at Cheltenham expect to see him in one of the Handicap Hurdles.

Petit Mouchoir won a point-to-point at Kirkistown in February prior to making an impressive win in a bumper at the Punchestown Festival. He was last seen in the aforementioned Grade 1 Future Champions Hurdle at Leopardstown, won by Long Dog. It doesn’t look good for these two winning anything of note at the Festival, as those who make the right noises at the Mullins stable do not rate Long Dog at all.

I originally wrote: ‘Free Expression is expected to go chasing this season and according to his trainer has strengthened up since his last run a year ago. His trainer sees no reason why he won’t stay three miles.’ The seven-year-old has been very disappointing in his three chases since, but he has being running over shorter trips than the three miles. Watch this space.

Whistle Dixie didn’t settle at Galway when sent off a 2/7f and was subsequently beaten, but got her head in front for jockey Bryan Cooper at Navan in the middle of December. Trainer Gordon Elliott said there is improvement in her, saying the mare wanted two-and-a-half miles or further. Elliott was impressed with her end of race speed on the heavy ground.

Alisier D’Irlande for Henry De Bromhead was six lengths clear of 10 rivals at Fairyhouse on Sunday before coming down four out on chasing debut, something the six-year-old is sure to learn from.

Sizing John once again ran in to the mighty Douvan on Boxing Day at Leopardstown, finishing second, 18 lengths behind the odds-on favourite for the Arkle in March. Sizing John is best priced 20/1 for the race and could well grab a place behind the favourite.

Some punters had their fingers burnt, on the first day, of last year’s festival, when the mare, Annie Power, came down at the last, saving the layers a fortune.

This year’s ‘First Day Four’ look to be, Min in the Supreme Novices (6/4), Douvan (Arkle 8/13), The Champion Hurdle sees Faugheen at 4/7 and 4/5 is the best price you can get on Annie Power, which pays just over 10/1.