Sunday, 16th April 2017
Based on a face-value reading of jockey bookings, Haymount is the principal hope for Willie Mullins in the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse tomorrow afternoon (5.00) – with Ruby Walsh booked for piloting duties on the 8-year-old.
Nevertheless, at the bigger price – 20s compared to 12s – I take the view that ARBRE DE VIE is the one to be on each-way under the guidance of Paul Townend.
It isn’t always the case that the top man gets to ride the horse with the best chance. Sometimes it isn’t even apparent which horse has the best chance….
Other times the horse is ridden by the right man for the job – and I am mindful that Paul Townend has produced a win and two decent tunes on the three occasions he’s ridden this 7-year-old….
Granted, each of those performances came over hurdles. But no doubt Townend will have had plenty of opportunities to sit on the horse over fences at home.
Spring – on better ground – is when this horse comes to life.
In 2015, he produced a fine run in the G1 Albert Bartlett over 3-miles at the Festival up against some horses that subsequently tuned out to be smart operators (the likes of No More Heroes & Native River) and then followed up by placing in a decent handicap at Punchestown.
Last season didn’t go so well. The horse went over fences once before being sent back over hurdles. But the horse produced his seasonal best at Ayr in April.
Back over fences this term, Arbre De Vie has only raced three times. He’s inexperienced for sure – but novice chasers frequently come to the fore in the Irish Grand National. And what he lacks in seasoning over fences, he makes up for with scope for progression.
He didn’t make it round in the 4-miler at Cheltenham last month. He unseated his rider 3-out. That was his first go at a trip beyond 3-miles (and beyond 21-furlongs over fences) but he was making headway not long before he exited and there’s every chance he’s going to improve for a proper trip.
Walsh’s mount tomorrow, Haymount, finished third that day. But there was more vibe in the ring ahead of the race for Arbre De Vie. He was sent off at more than half-the-price of the horse that the market likes almost twice as much tomorrow.
The bottom line is that Arbre De Vie was good-enough over hurdles to earn an official rating of 150.
Tomorrow he races off a chase mark of 140. If he turns out to be at least as good over fences as he was over the smaller flights, then he’s on a very handy rating.
It means he gets to go around tomorrow under a weight of just 10-05 – which is very nice in this event. He gets his ground. And having gone quite a way in his race at the Festival, he should strip plenty fit here.
He also goes to post in a first-time hood – which it is hoped will serve to sharpen his focus for the assignment.
All things considered, I think he’s a nice each-way price at the 20s.
The Contrarian Bet Box….
To recap on where my contrarian money will be going at Fairyhouse tomorrow….
In the Irish Grand National (5.00 @ Fairyhouse)....
That is my take on where the value lies – but you will no doubt have your own ideas and that’s exactly as it should be.
That’s all from me for now.
I’ll be back in your inbox on Wednesday.
Until then. Stay tuned.