Tuesday 21 February 2017

Cooper can make inroads on Walsh aboard Siberian Vixen

Published 14/04/2016 | 02:30

Bryan Cooper (SPORTSFILE)
Bryan Cooper (SPORTSFILE)

With two Munster cards already lost this week, conditions will be gruelling at Limerick today, where a modest spread will take place on a parched surface due to there simply being no fresh ground available this late in the season.

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From a punting perspective, it is a programme to keep stakes low. Of the seven races, the best opportunity might be in the bumper, as Balkalin appeals as nap material under Jamie Codd.

Barry Murphy's striking son of Balko has run just once before, racing very keenly at Leopardstown in February.

Despite his over-exuberance, he was still there turning in, only to tire into fourth, eventually beaten 12 lengths by the classy Aspen Colorado.

That was no mean feat, and the third, The Sneaky Punter, which was less than a length in front of him, has since won here. All told, it was a really encouraging debut, so Balkalin is fancied to build on it with a win, as he should race a little less freely now that he has had an outing.

Of the newcomers, Noel Meade's Nina Carberry-ridden Runforbob is the obvious one to note in the betting. A €60,000 son of Shantou, he wouldn't need to be anything special to make an impact in this.

With Ruby Walsh sidelined indefinitely, Bryan Cooper could challenge for a first jockeys' title. The Gold Cup-winning rider (below), who has a deficit of 10 to make up, is booked for just one ride, Siberian Vixen in the opener.

Trained in Co Cork by Edmund Kent, the daughter of Flemensfirth was second in a bumper at the Patrickswell venue last summer. Since then, the pick of her efforts was a runner-up finish at Fairyhouse in February, when she failed by just half-a-length to deny Not For Burning.

Conditions here will be similar to what they were then, so Siberian Vixen should be thereabouts.

Allowance

Gavin Cromwell's Plain Talking, which receives a 10lb four-year-olds' allowance and is ridden by a seven-pound claimer, could be the main threat to the selection, given the weight discrepancy.

In the beginners' chase, Some Drama gets the nod to score for Dermot McLoughlin, whose Vics Canvas ran such a gallant race to be third in the Grand National.

Some Drama has won just once in 26 starts, but he has gone close in the mud recently and this is a poorly contested affair.

Earlier, Bobbie's Diamond ought to take the maiden hurdle under Denis O'Regan, who flies in for just one ride. Tony Martin's charge was an eye-catching second over fences at Fairyhouse last time, and this looks another winnable race.

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