Storm Babet has wreaked havoc on the racing schedule over the last 24 hours or so, and its effects are likely to be felt on Saturday too.
Leopardstown is currently Heavy, with further rain forecast. If the meeting passes an 8am inspection, I’m backing this Aidan O’Brien-trained juvenile to get off the mark at the third attempt.
On the face of it, Master Of The Hunt getting beat at 4/11 at Listowel last month was disappointing. Bitterly.
However, there were excuses that day. Only five went to post and, as a result, there was absolutely no pace in the race. The winning time was almost four seconds slower than the 47-65 handicap staged just over half-an-hour later. I can’t imagine that suited whatsoever.
It’s not bad form either. The winner Starliner had three runs under his belt coming into it, boasting a good standard. Meanwhile, Orderofthephoenix, who was a couple of lengths behind the selection, bolted up at Dundalk next time out.
The return to a bigger field this weekend should suit. I suspect one of the other two Ballydoyle runners will ensure a stronger pace, and Seamie Heffernan, who returns to the plate, can take up a prominent position.
Conditions are also key. It’s going to be testing – that’s the biggest certainty since Constitution Hill in the 2023 Champion Hurdle – which shouldn’t be a bother for this son of No Nay Never, who’s two starts to date have been on ‘Soft’. That can’t be said with confidence about most of his 11 rivals – especially Guildenstern, Shamsuddin and Rocking Tree.
I expect Master Of The Hunt to look more like the horse who finished behind Group 1 winner Henry Longfellow, now rated 119, and subsequent Group 2 runner-up Mythology (100) at The Curragh earlier this year. If so, he ought to be very hard to beat.