When I saw the plunge on Nicat’s Benefit on Tuesday morning I was rubbing my hands in anticipation of a big run. Backed from as big as 33/1 into 8/1 at the off, some fingers were badly burned as she never looked like landing a blow. In what was a very strangely run race Nicat’s Benefit was never better than midfield, and perhaps she will be seen to better effect when Spring has properly sprung as both her wins came in March last year.
Another horse I put up last time he ran was Kilfenora, and he too was very well backed from 20s into 8s. He was always out the back under Slippers Madden and eventually pulled up, but I think he is better than he showed that day at Leopardstown in that valuable handicap chase off a mark of 121 (17f sft). He had shaped much better previously at Navan (17f hvy), looking as though further might suit when finishing very strongly for 3rd.
I thought a fast run race over 17f would play to his strengths last time, but it wasn’t to be. Eddie Harty has had a rethink, and he is trying the 6yo son of Yeats at 3 miles back over timber at Punchestown in the Pertemps Qualifier this afternoon. He is rated 6lb higher (127) over the smaller obstacles and his only rules win came in a heavy ground 16f maiden hurdle at this meeting last year.
He signed off last season with a fine run over 22f on ground possibly quicker than ideal at Fairyhouse when 4th in a competitive handicap hurdle off a mark of 127, beaten 5L. Admittedly he is off the same mark here, but he kept on well at the finish that day after getting outpaced and the return to heavy ground and step up in trip could bring about some improvement.
He has been chasing this season and this will be his first run over timber since that fine run at Fairyhouse. This is a Pertemps Qualifier and perhaps the plan since Navan was to run in this, qualify for the Pertemps Handicap at the Cheltenham festival and try to sneak in off a low weight. First of all Kilfenora has to finish in the first six in this contest, and hopefully he can sneak into the first three at odds of 25/1.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: 16.45 PUNCHESTOWN-KILFENORA E/W @ 25/1