Dr Whizz can keep JP to fore in battle
JP McManus and Michael O'Leary look set to take the battle for the owners' championship all the way to the wire once again, but last year's runner-up McManus can enhance his bid to regain the title that he had previously owned since 1995 by securing the valuable handicap chase at Gowran Park today.
In a similar event last Sunday, Carrigmartin led home a one-two for the Limerick native, who enjoys a lead of nearly €260,000 over his chief rival, and Dr Whizz can add to that by taking this afternoon's €24,375 pot. Lightly raced, the Tom Mullins-trained Dr Whizz has made steady progress over fences, finishing third three times.
On the most recent of those at Naas in January, he didn't enjoy the run of the race, but kept on gamely to the line. With just 10st 1lb on his back, he is weighted to score.
The presence of the hat-trick seeking pair The Sneezer and Just Friends will ensure that the two-mile contest is a proper test. Both of those are in the form of their lives, though they are marginally wrong at today's weights.
El Fontan can build on last month's promising run at the Kilkenny venue by taking what is a poor beginners' chase for Paddy Flood and Dessie Hughes. Conditions were similarly heavy then as they will be now, and El Fontan's effort to be fourth behind Tawaagg on his second start after a long lay-off augured well for the future.
Flood might earlier get on the score sheet in the two-mile handicap hurdle. A field of 20 is due to go to post for what looks a wide-open affair, but Flood's mount Whatever Jacksays caught the eye when staying on late at Clonmel last time.
Off a mark of 99 on his handicap debut, he may not be badly handicapped. The Buck, third at Gowran on his most recent start, is another to consider.
In the second maiden hurdle, Rathlin might have too much for Sicilian Secret, while Preists Leap is a speculative selection on his debut for Ray Hurley in the Tetratema Hunters' Chase. Hurley also saddles an in-form Whyso Mayo in this, but the former dual Thyestes Chase hero Preists Leap is worth an interest at his favourite track.