Special Tiara faces big task against two-mile champion Altior at Sandown
Daryl Jacob rides De Bromhead star for the first time
Noel Fehily onboard Special Tiara celebrates winning the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, Prestbury Park. Photograph: Inpho
Special Tiara skipped Punchestown’s soft ground conditions to wait for Sandown’s Celebration Chase and another clash with the two-mile champion Altior on Saturday.
Henry De Bromhead’s former Queen Mother Champion Chase hero was runner up to Altior in this Grade One a year ago and is having a fourth run in the race in all having won in 2015 and finished third in 2014.
Regular jockey Noel Fehily has opted to stay in Punchestown so Daryl Jacob rides Special Tiara for the first time.
The Irish raider was unsuited by the testing conditions at Cheltenham last month and was pulled up behind Altior in the two-mile championship.
The going is much more suitable this time but Altior is an overwhelming 1-5 favourite in some betting lists.
Nicky Henderson’s superstar is chasing a 14th win in a row and jockey Nico De Boinville believes skipping Aintree’s Melling Chase will work to his advantage.
”I thought we were in trouble at one stage (at Cheltenham) so I’m grateful we’ve waited for Sandown. I think those extra couple of weeks have helped him,” he said.
There will also be Irish interest at Leicester when Willie McCreery’s mud-lover Downforce takes his chance in the Listed King Richard III Stakes over seven furlongs.
Downforce won over the minimum trip at Naas in March but found only Psychedelic Funk too good over seven furlongs in the Gladness Stakes earlier this month.
Both McCreery and De Bromhead will be represented at Sunday’s flat fixture in Gowran where the Listed feature is the Victor McCalmont Stakes. Gowran will hold a 5pm inspection today. Ground conditions are currently waterlogged in places.
Bumbasina runs for McCreery in this and is the sort of test that will help Dermot Weld establish what precisely he has on his hands in Jaega.
The Irish Oaks and Pretty Polly entry made a sparkling debut at Leopardstown earlier this month and clearly possesses a lot of talent.
Taking on experienced types such as the 107 rated Clear Skies will be a real test but at least testing ground won’t be an issue.
Imrana is the latest Weld three year old to make her debut in the nine furlong maiden and she too holds a classic entry later this season.
Curly is a Ballydoyle newcomer in the same race while John Oxx’s Comeragh Haze has the benefit of a run but is drawn widest of all.
It could turn into a profitable day all round for Weld whose well bred Jewel Maker could be hard to beat in a maiden while the Cork winner looks one for the last.