Bullock Harbour can keep his rivals at bay
Bullock Harbour is fancied to justify the nap selection in the novice hurdle on the penultimate evening of Killarney's four-day August Festival.
A field of six goes to post for the Irish Stallion Farms EBF-sponsored contest and only Man Turk Lady will line out without any obvious chance. London Bridge, Raggletagglegypsy, Rattan and Catcherinscratcher are all accomplished performers.
All four have been in fine form, though maybe the last two named will be the selection's main dangers today. Both are largely progressive, with Catcherinscratcher easing to victory on her last two starts for Henry de Bromhead by an aggregate of 22 lengths.
Admittedly, the Willie Mullins-trained Rattan was less emphatic when scoring at Sligo three weeks ago, but that form has since been franked. The runner-up, Heavenly Bound, which Rattan conceded seven pounds to, won well at Kilbeggan last Friday.
That said, Bullock Harbour appeals as the classiest prospect. Always highly regarded, Jessica Harrington's seven-year-old had three winners of six subsequent races behind when collecting on his hurdling debut at Punchestown in May.
A dual bumper winner previously, Bullock Harbour confirmed his well-being with an effortless rout on the level at Bellewstown last week. If Robbie Power's mount turns out in that kind of shape again now, he will be a formidable opponent.
Later on, Our Gar should also take plenty of beating in the Killarney Oaks Hotel Beginners' Chase. On paper, Ainama, second to the Mossey Joe and St Devote on his two previous fencing starts, is the most obvious option in this.
However, Our Gar has been steadily improving and strikes as a less exposed sort. Third in three chasing runs, he posted his best effort here last time when not unduly punished behind Darenjan and Traffic Article, form that doesn't read at all badly now.
In the day's feature, the www.lakehotel.com Handicap Chase, Royal Choice gets the nod for the De Bromhead-Andrew Lynch partnership.
Granted, the two-and-a-half-mile €18,525 showpiece is highly competitive with 15 runners. Seasoned campaigners such as Norther Bay and Francis Du Mesnil will no doubt figure prominently, but Royal Choice could have their measure.
Twice placed in three completed starts this year, the King's Theatre mare was still in with a chance when tipping up two-out on her latest outing over fences at Tipperary in July.
In the McSweeney Arms Hotel Hurdle, Teak gets the nod for Adrian Maguire. A game third to Bullock Harbour under the former top-class jump jockey at Bellewstown, this consistent four-year-old competes off a light weight here.
Meanwhile, Johnny Murtagh was at his very best last night when guiding Zaralabad home in the www.thetote.com Kingdom Gold Cup Handicap at Killarney. An unlucky fourth in this race last year, Charlie Swan's gelding had returned to winning ways at Bellewstown a week ago and supplemented those gains with a one-length defeat of Dimona, the 12/1 chance recovering from a bump over a furlong out to motor home.
Murtagh was also on the mark when French Quebec (7/2) broke her duck at the third time of asking for Kevin Condon with a short-head success over heavily backed favourite Madhmoonah in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden.
Billy Lee produced Painted Fingers right on the line to deny long-time leader Indian Scout by a neck in the McElligott's Mercedes-Benz Handicap. Unplaced in her previous seven racecourse appearances, Tim Doyle's filly came wide entering the straight and flashed home for a last-gasp win.