Courtown Oscar Set For Grand National Trial
February 3 - Courtown Oscar looks a good bet later this month when he lines up in the Grand National Trial at Haydock for trainer Philip Kirby.
The eight-year-old recently won a handicap hurdle over 3m1f at Hereford where the ground on that occasion was very heavy and testing. With Davy Russell on board though, the pair outstayed their rivals to score by just under a length ahead of Bryden Boy, while the rest of the field were at least 20 lengths further back.
With more rain forecast for the next couple of weeks, the ground is likely to be similar at Haydock as it was at Hereford, it should thus suit the horse perfectly. As is always the case when the going is heavy, you rarely get many finishers as a lot of the runners are pulled up in the closing circuit.
Courtown Oscar does not have an entry in the Grand National at Aintree - therefore this will be his biggest race of the season. At 33/1 he looks a cracking each-way bet to at least finish in the frame. Some of the other runners in the race will be getting in their final run before the most famous steeplechase in the world, therefore they are unlikely to be at their peak at Haydock.
Kirby is bidding for his first success in the Grand National Trial at the Lancashire track. The dual-purpose trainer has been in good form recently with his stable. Lady Buttons, who was tipped up for success by Oddschecker on their best bets for the racing last Tuesday, scored at Southwell, while she also had a victory at Wolverhampton at the back end of last month with Good Time Ahead.
Don Poli to Enhance Cheltenham Festival Claims in Irish Gold Cup
Elsewhere in February, the Irish Gold Cup takes centre stage at Leopardstown, where Don Poli will have the opportunity to impress ahead of the Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Festival in March. Gordon Elliott's runner is the stand-out horse in the race and should have too much class for the rest of the field.
Don Poli has had two runs so far this season. He started out at Down Royal in November where he looked very rusty on his seasonal reappearance. Barry Geraghty pulled him up in that 3m contest with four fences left to jump. A month later he was much better as he finished second to Outlander in the Lexus Chase, which he won in 2015.
With doubts over Thistlecrack's fitness and the lack of depth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup this year, Don Poli is also worth an each-way bet at the Festival where he can be backed at 20/1. The Gigginstown-owned horse finished third in the Gold Cup in 2016, while 12 months earlier he was the winner of the RSA Chase so he obviously enjoys running around Cheltenham.
Courtown Oscar - 33/1 (Each-way) - Grand National Trial
Don Poli 5/2 (Win) - Irish Gold Cup
Don Poli 20/1 (Each-way) - Cheltenham Gold Cup
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