It's great that Sandown survives the big freeze and another real boost for ITV racing fans is three live races from the Dublin Festival at Leopardstown.
These include the lucrative and fiercely competitive Ladbrokes Hurdle (2.00) and in these kind of contests it pays to take two against the field and we opt for DUE REWARD and OFF YOU GO.
Stats are invaluable in trying to sort out races like these and it's a real eye opener that the last ten winners have all carried less than eleven stones. Of course that does not in any way rule out horses carrying more, but it does mean that it's way more likely that the winner will come from the lower end of the handicap.
The Gigginstown owned Due Reward represents the formidable and in form Henry de Bromhead/Rachael Blackmore combination and he is clearly highly rated by his shrewd connections as he last appeared in a Grade One novice at this track.
In that hot contest he ran well in third place for a long way but was under pressure from two out and Rachael eased him when his chance was gone. So the bare form of 42 lengths last of six should not
be interpreted too strictly, he's better than that, a lot better.
His previous race was nothing easy either, a rated novice at Punchestown and in that he trotted up in style, nine lengths the winning margin over useful stablemate Minella Times. Coincidence punters might note that his half sister Katie T won this race back in 2015, and Due Reward can uphold the family tradition today.
Off You Go won this last year when squeezing in at the bottom of the weights with Michael Enright aboard. The Charles Byrnes trained, J P McManus owned runner won on his seasonal debut at Galway but met an early setback last time out art Fairyhouse when apprentice ridden.
Up near the pace he stumbled badly after clearing the first and was pulling strongly on the first circuit and was brought a bit wide late on and just about everything went wrong. In other words a run best totally ignored.
Obviously he's carrying much more weight than last year now but he is progressive and indeed could well be racing well above handicap level later in the season. With Mark Walsh booked - he shares the McManus jockey duties in Ireland with Barry Geraghty - they clearly mean business, and a repeat success could well be on the cards.
An outsider attracting significant support is recent track and trip winner Try Again, and of the "shorties" in the betting Uradel is strongly fancied. But Due Reward and Off You Go will carry our money and look sure to figure at the business end.
Leopardstown - 2:00
1/2 Point Each Way Due Reward (22/1 PaddyPower else 20/1 Skybet both paying 6 places)
1/2 Point Each Way Off You Go (9/1 generally, look for bookies paying 5 places)
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