Around The Grounds – Sunday Stars On Show
Five Sunday Runners To Note
Despite only three meetings taking place across Britain and Ireland this Sunday, there are some fascinating entries and names to look forward to this weekend. Our expert editor has highlighted some of the talented runners entered across the cards.
Nassalam (1:50 Fontwell)
Gary Moore’s Grade 2 winning chaser NASSALAM should be able to give weight and a beating to his three rivals on Sunday, and although turned over at short odds the last two outings, the five-year-old takes on significantly inferior opposition on Sunday and should post a third win over the larger obstacles for his in-form yard.
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Captain Guinness (2:00 Naas)
Although giving 7lb to Willie Mullins’ Blackbow won’t be straightforward, there’s every reason to think CAPTAIN GUINNESS can return to winning ways after finishing third to Chacun Pour Soi in the Dublin Chase earlier this month.
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Henry De Bromhead’s seven-year-old has seemingly looked up against it recently in the top Graded races but is still a very useful sort over fences when putting it all together, including when making a winning seasonal return at Naas in Grade 3 company under Rachael Blackmore.
Henry De Bromhead’s charge might not be championship standard but back against Grade 3 opposition, Captain Guinness should be able to return to winning ways despite his lofty current handicap mark of 160.
Brewin’upastorm (2:50 Fontwell)
The Grade 2 National Spirit Hurdle has attracted a small but select field but this looks like a good opportunity for BREWIN’UPASTORM to follow up last year’s dominant success in this very race.
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Olly Murphy’s stable star returned this season at Aintree in the Class 2 Betway Hurdle and despite returning from wind surgery and a 212-day absence, the nine-year-old readily landed the spoils under jockey Aidan Coleman to win going away by 9l from If The Cap Fits.
Brewin’upastorm went close to following up that Aintree success when coming down at the final flight in the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. Olly Murphy’s charge travelled well into contention when mounting a serious-looking challenge to eventual winner Stormy Ireland before coming to grief.
However, that last flight departure didn’t seem to inconvenience him when staying on best of all later that month when taking a Class 2 contest at Lingfield’s Winter Million Meeting, defeating Darver Star and Goshen in the process.
Brewin’upastorm should have the measure of Darver Star once more on Sunday and although this appears a deeper contest to the one he won last season, he looks tough to beat in his follow up bid.
Flame Bearer (3:00 Naas)
A few of these are in with chances and four of the six runners arrive off the back of taking wins last time out. However, the vote goes to FLAME BEARER who got off the mark over hurdles in a maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse last month, coming well clear of his toiling rivals to win by 12l.
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The seven-year-old began his season over hurdles when facing a stiff task against the unbeaten Dysart Dynamo at Cork back in December but the seven-year-old has significantly improved on his last two starts over timber including when meeting interference in the closing stages to finish third over Sunday’s course and distance on the penultimate outing.
Flame Bearer faces tougher opposition in the shape of Ha D’or and Meet And Greet but he rates the solid option out of the trio and can return to winning ways this weekend.
Gelino Bello (15:20 Ffos Las)
On the face of it, GELINO BELLO has been slightly disappointing since impressively landing a maiden hurdle at Aintree on seasonal reappearance. However, those subsequent performances have been hard to fault considering the level of opposition he encountered at Cheltenham and Kempton.
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Paul Nicholls’ charge simply had no answer for the impressive Charles Byrnes runner Blazing Khal at Prestbury Park in Grade 2 novice company, and considering that horse at one stage was the ante-post favourite for the Albert Bartlett, those runner-up efforts don’t look bad at all.
On handicap debut, the six-year-old was entered in the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton last month and whilst he never landed a telling blow in fourth, it was still a respectable performance from a mark of 138.
Connections will be disappointed if he can’t make the most of Sunday’s opportunity back in novice company and seemingly only has Gary Moore’s Jerrash to worry about.