Great Britain-Ireland Preview: April 2 Spot Plays

April 1st, 2022

Cheltenham may have come and gone, but there’s still plenty of top-level jumps racing to come in Britain and Ireland, starting this weekend with the Scottish Grand National at Ayr. There is also a bet-back offer on all races at Newbury on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the flat season is just getting started, with a couple of Classic trials in Ireland on Saturday.

Let’s have a look at some spot plays for the weekend in Britain and Ireland (all times U.S. Eastern Daylight Time).

Ayr, Race 3, 9:25 a.m.: Scottish Champion Hurdle (G2), 2 miles

Last year’s first two, #1 Milkwood and #7 Anna Bunina, return but without the same form; Milkwood hasn’t raced since October. The one to beat is probably #2 West Cork, who ran a great race for fifth to State Man in the County Handicap Hurdle (G3) at Cheltenham March 18 and should find this much easier. #3 Onemorefortheroad may be the biggest threat.

  • $10 win/$30 place: #2 West Cork

Leopardstown, Race 2, 9:35 a.m.: Red Rocks 2,000 Guineas Trial (Listed), 7 furlongs, three-year-old colts and geldings

Not a gathering of high-profile candidates for the 2,000 Guineas, with the leading two contenders, #1 Dr Zempf and #3 Glounthaune, rated around the 33-1 mark in many markets. Dr Zempf has the higher rating after finishing second in the Phoenix S. (G1) in Ireland last year. But he could be suspect at 7 furlongs, whereas Killavullan S. (G3) winner Glounthaune, considered good enough to run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) last season (finishing 12th of 13) may have more stamina. Vertem Futurity sixth #5 Mctigue looks the best of the others.

  • $10 win: #3 Glounthaune
  • $1 trifecta: 3 with 1, 5 with all

Newbury, Race 4, 9:45 a.m.: NH Mares’ Novices' Hurdle (G2), 2 9/16 miles, novice mares

A highly-competitive handicap hurdle, where a couple of horses that last took on Cheltenham winner Love Envoi (#1 Speech Bubble, #2 Nina The Terrier) face horses still finding their way in handicaps. Perhaps the one to follow is #6 Corey’s Courage, who remains unbeaten over hurdles and hasn’t really been tested yet.

  • $10 win/$30 place: #6 Corey’s Courage

Ayr, Race 4, 10 a.m.: Future Champion Novices’ Chase (G2), 2 9/16 miles, novices

Just five horses are contesting this race, but all look to have some chance. Perhaps the best at the weights is #3 Do Your Job; beaten by Arkle Chase (G1) winner Edwardstone twice this season, he improved when taken back to handicap company at Newcastle last start. #1 Minella Drama looks the best of the others.

  • $20 win: #3 Do Your Job

Leopardstown, Race 3, 10:10 a.m.: Priory Belle 1,000 Guineas Trial (G3), 7 furlongs, three-year-old fillies

Unlike the 2,000 Guineas trial, this contains some horses well up in the 1,000 Guineas market. #8 Sacred Bridge is the best-performed, having won four in Ireland, including the Round Tower S. (G3) Aug. 27, prior to failing as favorite in the Cheveley Park S. (G1) in England. But the filly highest up in the British 1,000 Guineas market is the Aidan O’Brien-trained #4 Contarelli Chapel. She looked outstanding on debut but required knee surgery after failing at Naas May 21. This is her first run since, but a win would be required to justify her lofty market position.

  • $10 win/$30 place: #4 Contarelli Chapel

Ayr, Race 5, 10:35 a.m.: Scottish Grand National (G3), 4 miles

Unsurprisingly, this is an open event. But the one to follow might be #7 Win My Wings, who unlike most of his rivals has had recent experience around the four-mile trip, winning at Newcastle Feb. 26. He should give a good account of himself.

  • $20 win and place: #7 Win My Wings

Leopardstown, Race 4, 10:45 a.m.: Ballysax Stakes (G3), 1 1/4 miles, three-year-olds

This has been an important stepping stone for staying horses, having been won by Derby winners Galileo, High Chaparral, and Harzand. Whether any of this year’s runners will match them is hard to know, but very few are well-backed in Epsom Derby markets. The best-regarded is #6 Piz Badile, whose only two starts produced a maiden victory and a second in the Eyrefield S. (G3) to tomorrow’s race rival #1 Duke De Sessa, who gives away three pounds here. Perhaps the one to watch may be #5 Manu Et Corde, who found only Derby favorite Luxembourg too good in the Beresford S. (G2) in September last year.

  • $10 win/$30 place: #5 Manu Et Corde