For Bill fits Munster National picture for upbeat Winters
Having finished an encouraging second to Finger Onthe Pulse on her seasonal bow at Listowel, the prolific Mick Winters-trained mare For Bill is poised to carry top-weight in this Sunday's Munster National.
Owned by the popular octogenarian Donie Sheahan -- a selector with the 1975 All Ireland-winning Kerry football team -- For Bill was one of 26 entries submitted yesterday for the three-mile handicap chase at Limerick. Successful nine times already, the Presenting eight-year-old is highest rated by a mere pound at 140.
Speaking yesterday, Winters, who is based in Kanturk, confirmed that his stable star is on course to tackle the Ladbrokes.com-sponsored showpiece.
"She came out of Listowel very well," he said. "She ran well, but if it was a fortnight later it would have suited better. She should be spot on now."
Having done all of her winning on soft or heavy ground, For Bill would appreciate any further rainfall at Limerick, where the official going is currently good to yielding. That said, Winters, who also revealed that his smart novice hurdler Rebel Fitz is on target to run again at Cork on Sunday week, doesn't see conditions being an issue.
"She might be better off with some nice ground rather than tacky," he suggested, "but if we get a drop of rain it will keep it safe for her."
Also among the Munster National entries are Golden Kite -- successful for Adrian Maguire in 2010 -- and Bideford Legend, runner-up to Alfa Beat in the Kerry equivalent. Charles Byrnes' representative's rating is up five pounds now to 138, with Willie Mullins' Uncle Junior, seventh at Listowel, unchanged at 139.
Apache Dawn and Qhilimar are the only two English-trained horses engaged in the Grade A feature, while Welsh handler Evan Williams has West With The Wind in the following Pricewaterhousecoopers Chase. Loosen My Load and Realt Dubh, two of last year's best novices, are among seven others entered in that Grade Three.
Also on Sunday, The Curragh concludes its season, with the Cesarewitch headlining a seven-race spread. Aidan O'Brien, who saddled Bright Horizon to win the race last year, has four of this year's 32 entries, including the top-rated Regent Street (103); that one is also in the Finale Stakes, as well as Newmarket's Cesarewitch on Saturday.
The Finale, a Listed contest, promises to be an intriguing event. Among the 25-strong entry are Cheltenham Festival winners Noble Prince and What A Charm, along with Unaccompanied, which finished a game second in the Triumph Hurdle.
Unaccompanied's trainer Dermot Weld has the lowest-priced Irish horse in Saturday's Cesarewitch, with Rainforest Magic, a winner over hurdles and on the Flat at the Galway Festival, a 14/1 shot for the 18-furlong Newmarket slog. Mount Athos (David Wachman), Buy Back Bob (Tony Martin) and Regent Street are all 16/1 or bigger.
In all, there are 36 Irish entries for the inaugural running of a programme dubbed Future Champions Day. Power, triumphant in the National Stakes for Ballydoyle last time, can participate in either of the card's two Group Ones.
However, the Dewhurst, run over the National Stakes' trip of seven furlongs, is believed to be favoured over the Middle Park. The Oasis Dream colt is a top-priced 7/2 favourite to deliver O'Brien his third win in the Dewhurst.