'Gold' fancied to have Midas touch
After just being denied by Russet a month ago, Touch Of Gold warrants the nap vote in tonight's fillies' maiden at Dundalk.
John Murphy's daughter of Papal Bull had shown promise on her track bow before Christmas, and she built on that last time. Ridden just off the pace on the rail, Touch Of Gold went down fighting by just half-a-length to Russet.
It wasn't a great race, but tonight's edition over the furlong-longer trip of a mile is of a similar modest standard. Given the way that Touch Of Gold kept on, this trip should play to her strengths, so she is fancied to break her duck under seven-pound claimer, Keith Moriarty.
The same trainer-jockey combination is represented by Tanneron in the finale, but preferred in that is Johnny Feane's Tom Dooley. While this seven-furlong affair is a pretty open race, Tom Dooley looks handicapped to win off a mark of 51.
Successful off ratings of 60 and 53 in the past, he ran his best race for some time when second to Rose Angel last week. That was just his second start for Feane, and, if he makes similar progression now, then he ought to go close for Gary Carroll.
At the other end of the card, Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen could collect with Sir Raston in what is another low-quality maiden. Ten have been declared for this extended 10-furlong contest, and, of the nine that have run, a rating of 66 is the highest on offer.
Sir Raston has a mark of just 63, but he still appeals as being the most solid option despite a wide draw. Fourth at Tipperary last year off 72, he is reverting to maiden company here for a first time in two years, which tells you all you need to know about the opposition that he faces.
The apprentices' handicap is a competitive 12-furlong contest. Wither Hills, Poitin, Alnahar and Shukhov all arrive in fine form, while Temasek Star is on a hat-trick if he happens to get in as first reserve. It should be a cracking encounter, and it might be that Whatever It Takes is the one to keep on side.
A four-time Flat winner, Niall Madden's JP McManus-owned eight-year-old has never won off a figure as high as his current rating of 71. It may prove beyond him, but there was an awful lot to like about the way that he performed here when second to Ancient Sands earlier in the month.
Off a mark of 69 on that occasion, he travelled well and kept on to the line, failing by just a quarter of a length. It was a turn that confirmed his liking for the course and distance, so he could be up to scoring here off his slightly higher rating.
The €16,000 seven-furlong handicap is another decent event. Of the 10 in this, Mick Halford's in-form Hat Alnasar gets the nod to oblige for stand-in rider, Kevin Manning.