Outstanding British contender could make it a wasted journey for Willie Mullins
3.15 Market Rasen
Alan Swinbank Mares' Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Listed) | 2m½f | 4yo-6yo | ITV4/RTV
Grangee will dominate the narrative in this bumper. She will be Willie Mullins’ first runner in Britain since November and only his second jumper to venture across the Irish Sea since the Cheltenham Festival. That would have seemed unthinkable at this time last year.
Turn the clock back 12 months and Mullins won this race with Panic Attack, his first and only previous runner at Market Rasen, so this should be a formality for Grangee to maintain the master trainer's 100 per cent record at the track, shouldn’t it? The answer is ‘no’.
Mullins has attempted to cash in on the greater bumper opportunities for mares in Britain on 16 occasions since 2009, but only two of those runners were successful. All bar three of them went off at single-figure prices, including nine who returned at SPs of 3-1 or shorter and eight of those were outright favourites. A £1 bet on all of them would have yielded a loss of £7.
Furthermore, this year there is an outstanding British contender lining up called Eileendover.
The Pam Sly-trained four-year-old has twice recorded a Racing Post Rating of 127. She did so when landing a Huntingdon bumper by 29 lengths on her debut in November and repeated the feat when a 16-length scorer under a penalty at Wetherby last month on slower ground.
She is bred to be good as a granddaughter of the stable’s 1,000 Guineas winner Speciosa and, to put into context just how good, let's point out that only three mares have bettered an RPR of 127 in bumpers in Britain since 2008. They were Kayf Grace and Augusta Kate, who filled first and second in the Grade 2 mares’ bumper at Aintree's Grand National meeting in 2016, and the 2018 Cheltenham Champion bumper heroine Relegate. That’s quite some company.
Race analysis by Graeme Rodway
Exciting Eileendover out to surprise Sly again
Only one word comes to mind when Pam Sly, the owner, breeder and trainer of Eileendover, is asked to describe her reaction to the filly’s performances so far.
“Stunned,” Sly said. “We didn’t know the first time she ran that she was as good as that. She’s probably got another gear in there too.”
Eileendover has run twice in bumpers and on each occasion she has taken apart the field in a manner of a horse who is far superior to the opposition. In doing so, she has twice recorded Racing Post Ratings of 127, which puts her among the leading bumper performers on either side of the Irish Sea once age and sex allowances are also factored in.
Read more of our Saturday tipping . . .
Her talent should not come as a total surprise either given her breeding - she is by the brilliant miler Canford Cliffs out of a daughter of Speciosa, the headstrong filly who memorably landed the 2006 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket for Sly in the same light blue and pink silks of Eileendover.
The four-year-old is the youngest horse in the field and is still maturing, according to Sly, who nevertheless is hopeful of a first three finish and some black type to bolster the filly’s pedigree.
“She’s growing and filling out a bit at the moment, which is good,” Sly said. “She’s in good order and she’s got one or two of her grandmother’s traits too.
“I don’t really want to run on heavy ground but there are no other races for her at the moment, so I’m just hoping she can go and get in the first three.”
What they say
Olly Murphy, trainer of Chosen Port
I think she was an unlucky loser on her first start as she was just a bit too fresh. She’s always shown herself to be a nice mare on what she’s done at home and I’d like to think she’s going to run very well.
Fergal O’Brien, trainer of Fashion Nova
We were a bit disappointed with the result on her debut, I suppose, as we’d gone there quite hopeful. She’s a good mare and we’d be going there thinking she can show up well. Hopefully, she can pick up a bit of black type.
Tom Symonds, trainer of Merry Mistress
She’s got every good reason to go for a race like this after winning like she did last time. We don’t really target bumpers, so she must have a good amount of ability to do what she did at Hereford. The time was good and the form is working out too, so we’ll be looking to get some black type with her and see how good she might be.
Reporting by Peter Scargill
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