Donnas Palm can deliver
The successful appeal of Big Game Hunter's connections at the Turf Club yesterday, following the gelding's controversial demotion after landing the opening maiden hurdle at Clonmel last Sunday, came as no surprise whatsoever to most neutral observers.
The situation with local stewards interpreting regulations was called into question three times at Galway before the latest Clonmel gaffe that provoked anger from on-course punters, who ultimately lose out no matter what happens on appeal.
That scenario hardly inspires confidence among racegoers about the consistency with which enquiry verdicts are arrived at, suggesting the powers-that-be at the Turf Club need to hold refresher courses for those acting on panels in a voluntary capacity.
Evidence of some urgency on this vital disciplinary front would be welcomed as we're now getting into the National Hunt season proper, with Graded events on offer at Gowran Park this afternoon and particularly in Tipperary tomorrow.
While today's Grade 2 Champion Chase hardly warrants that grandiose title at Gowran Park, patrons of Tipperary can look forward to more competitive fare generally emanating from the three signature events at the Limerick Junction course.
The Friends of Tipperary Hurdle was the launching pad a year ago for what proved a series of major wins on the part of Go Native, before Noel Meade's latest star performer suffered an injury in the early stages of the Champion Hurdle in Cheltenham.
This time the former champion trainer and his inimitable stable jockey Paul Carberry are hoping that Donnas Palm, which has proved a fine money-spinner for an Oireachtas cross-party syndicate, can fill the void left by Go Native's enforced absence.
Backed up by veteran Aitmatov, Donnas Palm has a tough nut to crack, however, as Pat Flynn's course and distance victor Bahrain Storm had a couple of runs on the flat to keep him ticking over since a gallant second to Overturn in Galway's Guinness Hurdle.
Carberry's year-younger mount, which similarly led in the pack behind Solwhit in the Toshiba Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown last January, won on the flat at Navan on his seasonal return last October though and gets the vote to repeat the feat here.
The Dolores Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle over the same minimum trip later on holds the promise of another head-to-head in the closing stages between Terence O'Brien's Ballyadam Brook and another talented recruit to timber-topping in One Cool Tornado.
False Economy, Hazeymm, Oilily and Listowel casualty Takeyourcapoff step up in class for this Grade Two contest with claims of making their presence felt also, even if this quartet may struggle to go the pace when the joint top weights up the ante.
To the delight of his connections, and indeed, followers of this column, Ballyadam Brook, with Paul Townend up, has managed to answer every challenge the Alderbrook gelding has been faced with in the current campaign and tomorrow's task may be within his capabilities, too, as Paul Gilligan's One Cool Tornado may require a greater stamina test and a more demanding circuit to play fully to his strengths.
It's a pity, however, that Gilligan withdrew Cheltenham festival winner Berties Dream from the O'Dwyer Steel Novice Chase, leaving hat-trick seekers Gonebeyondrecall and Glenstal Abbey to contend with former classy hurdlers Essex and Farringdon.
As the latter might have more scope for improvement than Essex and Gonebeyondrecall, it could pave the way for the recent Ballinrobe winner to get the better of Glenstal Abbey, despite that horse's summer success over the route.
Former invalid Glencove Marina could make a successful debut from Eoin Griffin's stable in the richest event on the Gowran Park card as there's sufficient juice in the ground to suit this multiple winner, which romped away from Made In Taipan at Navan last March on his final outing from the Willie Mullins yard.
The preceding handicap hurdle, which kicks off the Jackpot could feature, could see Jack Cool putting an end to the sequence of fellow Listowel victor Lough Ferrib and Mark Walsh can enhance his good strike-rate in the JP McManus colours aboard Bob Lingo in the Beginners Chase.