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Hilly Way Chase preview

Some rather ordinary weather in Ireland of late meant today's attempt at running the Hilly Way Chase at Cork had to be rearranged. Technical difficulties prevented me from publishing the original preview, so here's a tweaked version from Irish racing analyst Neal Murphy, @njmurphy1985.

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Hilly Way Chase
rescheduled to Monday 12:35 Navan
Grade 2, €47,500, 2m 1f
Going: Heavy


Bright New Dawn

On ratings Bright New Dawn has little chance. The handicapper did not think much of his effort in front of Felix Yonger, First Lieutenant and Mallowney in Clonmel last day leaving him on 148 but this parish takes a contrasting view. All bar Bright New Dawn were open company Grade 1/2 winners and First Lieutenant has since proven he retains some old sparkle when third in the Hennessy off 147. His switch to Gordon Elliott’s stable has gotten off to a shaky start, falling at the second on debut and rear-ending himself at the third in the Fortia losing his rider but he was backed on both occasions and it would be no surprise if the yard has significantly improved him given their history. I think he is bordering on a 160s horse and with definite race fitness, this gives him a live chance on Sunday (Monday). If he had completed in the Fortia, I think he’d have won and should go close this week.

Days Hotel

A good servant to the stable but now at 10, looks like he has seen better days. A winner of this in 2012 and his 2nd in the Fortria on seasonal re-appearance would suggest all hope is not lost, but he plugged on for runners up spot after the race had completely fallen apart and it was February ’14 when he last got his head in front. Very tough to see him reversing the clock and he goes unconsidered.

Felix Yonger

A very consistent performer last season, winning on all starts bar his seasonal re-appearance. His culminating victory in the Punchestown Champion Chase proved he was right back to his days of defeating the likes of Defy Logic, Trifolium over fences and finishing a good second to Simonsig in the Neptune Hurdle. A talented operator and one that does not go without consideration for the Cheltenham Champion Chase, he will take all the beating this weekend. The heavy going is the one concern but he looked to handle it on seasonal re-appearance in Clonmel and his class should see him through.

Hidden Cyclone

A consistent performer over the years and a very good horse on his day, particularly over 2 miles. The winner of this season’s Fortria Chase, it is questionable form given the market principles failed to fire and they all finished very tired horses having needed the run. His run last Sunday in the John Durkan is a worry given he fell half way but continued to run with the leader for the reminder of the race. The trainer has said he has come out of it fine and is 100% but I would think it has left a mark.

Twinlight

A scorcher with the finest tea-leaves is needed for this fella but definitely a classy animal on his day. A PU in this race last year followed by a very impressive Grade 1 win at Leopardstown 20 days later gives a good insight into his predictability. As a previous winner of the race in 2013 and pulled up on seasonal re-appearance in the Fortria, you’d have to give him a serious chance!

Summary

WP Mullins’s yard has shifted into full throttle in December, with seven winners from 14 attempts. He has top quality arsenal for all challenges and this race is no different. As mentioned above, Felix Yonger has proved himself a Grade 1 performer and dispelled initial winter ground worries both this season and last. He looks ultra consistent, has won over further on bad ground and gets the vote for Sunday. He is currently best price 6/4 and I see him going off a lot closer to odds-on. Of the challengers, Bright New Dawn looks the next best on the basis of his stable switch and a good run last time out. He has also proven his stamina over further, which will be needed given the weather forecast. Hidden Cyclone’s efforts last weekend is a big negative, saying Twinlight is inconsistent is an understatement and Days Hotel is very unlikely to cut it in this company.

1. Felix Yonger
2. Bright New Dawn

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