Spacious, a touch of class to cap Martin's perfect week
TONY MARTIN and Shane Shortall can cap what has been a memorable week for both by landing the nap with Spacious Sky in the opener on tomorrow's Galway finale.
The Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle looks wide open with 20 runners, but there are an awful lot of positives to the five-year-old selection for the in-form duo.
First and foremost, he won't be inconvenienced by the rain-softened ground, as he won on yielding at Navan in November before being placed in deep winter ground in good races behind Sea Light and Court Jester.
Spacious Sky didn't quite do it in competitive events at Fairyhouse and Punchestown, but this is a lesser quality affair.
Moreover, his runs on the Flat recently have been hugely encouraging, finishing fourth to the Galway Hurdle runner-up Bayan at Leopardstown and then filling the same spot behind stable-mate Quick Jack in Monday's feature after getting no run in the straight.
Dropped a pound over flights now and with the Galway Plate hero Shortall taking a further four pounds off, Spacious Sky will surely be hard to beat.
The one that might be best equipped to cause an upset is Beckwith Star, which was an authoritative winner over flights on Monday night.
Henry de Bromhead's charge lines out under an eight-pound penalty now for a mark of 108 that is still favourable compared to his chase rating of 116, so he must be a live threat to Spacious Sky.
Martin can also take the At The Races Beginners' Chase with the Barry Geraghty-ridden Ted Veale.
Last year's Hurdle favourite has been highly tried over fences, and he was disappointing when dropped in grade for a handicap at Killarney last time. However, that was his first start after a short break so he might well come on for the outing, and this represents yet another drop in class.
John Kiely and Paul Townend, who combined with Indian Pace for a famous Hurdle coup in 2008, might go close with Saint Gervais in the two-mile handicap chase.
Well beaten in the amateur riders' race on Monday, Saint Gervais is lightly raced over fences, but he finished second here to Rebel Fitz 12 months ago, so he is no slouch. If he runs to that level now, he will be hard to beat.
Townend will also have a say on Boss Croaker for Robert Tyner in the three-mile handicap hurdle, while Dermot Weld and Robbie McNamara could foil Willie Mullins' hat-trick-seeking Totally Dominant in the bumper with Windsor Park.
When hacking up in a proper race at Leopardstown in January, Windsor Park had Marinero, Killer Crow and Princely Conn behind, three smart horses that have since won four bumpers. That is the most impressive piece of form on offer.