Ask Jack to answer call as Murphy chases double delight
Over 100,000 patrons for the first four days of the summer festival underlines just how much this annual event in Galway means to Irish racing at a time when the industry elsewhere has been struggling to come to terms with the ravages of the recession.
Invariably manager John Moloney and the race committee come up with the right formula to keep the coffers of Horse Racing Ireland topped up despite the shrinking corporate sector.
Even allowing for the customary bumper harvest Dermot Weld enjoys here, the prizes are shared out, with several of the smaller yards getting in on the act too. For instance, Ask Jack, which was a hugely popular winner of the Topaz Mile for Athenry owner Tom Howley Jnr, returns to Ballybrit today under a mandatory 5lb penalty for the featured Low Low Premier Handicap over a shorter trip.
The Joe Murphy-Chris Hayes alliance that gave Howley a day to remember are hopeful Ask Jack will repeat the feat, dropping back to seven furlongs.
low low handicap
Drawn in the middle of the dozen runners, Murphy's charge is joined on top weight by the previous course and distance winners, Broad Meaning from the Weld yard and David Marnane's Maundy Money that failed to get in a blow behind Ask Jack on Tuesday.
A year ago on softer ground the veteran Fit The Cove and Willie Supple secured this nice prize for the Harry Rogers stable, but the going is not in their favour this time as Miss Eze, having her third run of the meeting, and Little Arrows enter the calculations as well.
Verdict -- Ask Jack likes it here.
irish stallion farms
The outcome may depend largely on how well Jim Bolger's Suntan copes with a 10lb hike from the official assessor after opening his account with an emphatic Curragh success over six furlongs. Drawn on the favoured rail, Kevin Manning's mount sets a decent standard.
Free Art has been competing at a higher level, having been third to Zoffany and English runner Stentorian in a Listed race at Leopardstown before his sixth to Pathfork in a classy Curragh maiden and rates a greater threat than Act Of Love and Cambina.
Verdict -- Stay with Suntan.
maiden hurdle (2.25)
An unlucky loser in a similar contest at Punchestown earlier this year, Baracas could be primed to secure better reward after an outing on the flat last month. Gentleman Jeff likewise was primed on the flat at Leopardstown last week for his comeback over jumps and Carrleoni, which has plenty of jumping experience should not be ignored.
Lean Times, which won a Kilbeggan bumper on this ground, could make his presence felt along with Dumitas.
Verdict -- Baracas is the form pick.
dawn juice maiden (4.30)
A costly odds-on second to Music In The Rain at Naas, Enchanted Forest may be good enough to go one better this time when renewing rivalry with the fourth finisher there Ploopluck Bridge, as Killarney runner-up In Good Voice also seeks to get off the mark.
Verdict -- Enchanted Forest may oblige.