Giant's Quest towers above rivals at Ballinrobe
Giant's Quest had punters smiling at Ballinrobe last night after the promising bumper performer took the opening Paddy Smyth Memorial Maiden in style.
Trained by Dermot Kelly and ridden by Pat Smullen, the son of Giant's Causeway was having his first start under Flat rules, having previously run in four bumpers.
The five year-old -- backed from 5/2 in the morning into 5/6 favourite -- led five furlongs out before being joined by Clarach three furlongs out, but approaching the straight he asserted under pressure and stayed on well to win by four lengths from Moymore Lad.
After the race the stewards handed down a five-day suspension to Danny Mullins, rider of Clarach, after he dropped his hands and was caught for second place.
Tracey Collins' string have been in good form of late and the Curragh trainer struck with Black Belt in the Craic on the Track 14th August Maiden under Seamie Heffernan.
The daughter of Big Bad Bob moved into the lead well over two furlongs out before staying on to score by two and a half lengths from Prince Of Dubai.
The Willie Austin-trained Newmarket Story followed up a good run at Tipperary last month by landing the Derrinstown Stud Apprentice Handicap under the ever-improving Shane Foley.
At the Mayo venue today, the Willie Mullins-trained Sicilian Secret looks the one to follow in the two-and-a-half mile novice hurdle.
While this eight-year-old is yet to deliver on his initial promise in bumpers, David Casey's mount should have too much class for his four opponents.
The likely favourite took some time to get off the mark over timber, but broke his duck in style at Fairyhouse before struggling at the Punchestown Festival. However, this conditions event represents a much easier assignment, and his experience earns him the nod over James Nash's Some Say.
Cumulus Nimbus was just short of Listed class on the level for Richard Hannon and is an interesting recruit in the Mayo News Maiden Hurdle. Now with Dessie Hughes, the four-year-old has the match-fit In A Nutshell and Super Collider to beat.
Jessica Harrington takes on Cumulus Nimbus with Alamanda, and while that looks a tough task for the filly, the Kildare trainer should enjoy better luck with the consistent, if one-paced, Seader in the Mayo Maiden Hurdle.
Gordon Elliott's Manger Hanagment is out to make amends for a Perth defeat in the Jennings Meats Handicap Hurdle, but he is burdened with top weight and Teak can strike a blow for the Adrian Maguire team.
In the bumper, Elliott and Nina Carberry should land the spoils with Some Fiddle, which stayed on well when fourth to Donatis Comet at Down Royal last month.
As punters gear up for more attractive fare next week, Eddie Harty has revealed that Tony McCoy was "delighted" with the performance of Captain Cee Bee in Sunday's Grimes Hurdle at Tipperary, but the jury is still out on his Galway target.
The 10-year-old was winning his 10th race from just 21 outings on his first return to smaller obstacles for over three years. A decision now has to be made to run him in either the Galway Plate, his original target, in which he would have to carry top weight, or the Galway Hurdle, for which he would only have 10st 11lb if Overturn runs.
"The decision now is which race to run him in," said Harty. "He does look well handicapped over hurdles, because he hasn't run over them for so long. It's a balancing act, and I hope we balance it right. Tony was delighted with him. He just got a bit tired in the last 100 yards but he travelled and jumped very well."