Hanlon aims to maintain purple patch in Perth raid
On the first leg of its two-part finale for the year, Perth, as ever, plays host to a deluge of Irish raiders this afternoon.
Gordon Elliott, so prolific at the idyllic Scottish venue, saddles four of the 15-strong travelling contingent as he goes in search of his 20th course winner of the term. Kerry National-winning trainer John 'Shark' Hanlon also brings a quartet, as does James McAuley.
Tony Martin and Robbie Hennessy, both Meath-based like McAuley and Elliott, complete the delegation, with McAuley and Hanlon the only two yet to record a Perth triumph. Hanlon -- who enjoyed a double at Ballinrobe on Monday -- could get off the mark in the opening maiden hurdle.
The in-form trainer saddles Mart Lane under seven-pound claimer Brian Hayes, and it would be a surprise if the six-year-old wasn't involved at the death. Impressive on its debut at Leopardstown in January, the Barry Connell-owned gelding may face just one serious rival -- the Tony McCoy-ridden Hard To Swallow -- in the six-runner heat.
McCoy's three other rides on the card are for Elliott, with The Ice Factor possibly the pick of those in the juvenile hurdle, while Martin's Corrick Bridge is interesting in the Sodexo Prestige Handicap Chase. A winner over hurdles at Bellewstown in July, Graham Lee's mount has since been placed twice.
Also today, Galway trainer Muredach Kelly saddles Rowayton at Redcar, where the out-of-form sprinter will be ridden by Robert Winston.
Looking further ahead, it promises to be an informative weekend of Flat activity both at home and abroad. Ger Lyons has forked out £15,000 to supplement Lightening Pearl for the Group One Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.
Successful in a Group Three at The Curragh last month, Lightening Pearl could be joined in the six-furlong showpiece by David Wachman's Fire Lily.
Also a winner at headquarters in the same grade in July, Fire Lily has subsequently finished runner-up to Best Terms and Maybe, probably the two best two-year-old fillies in training.
Best Terms is a 7/4 favourite to maintain her unbeaten record for Richard Hannon on Saturday, with Lightening Pearl second best at 5/1 and Fire Lily a fraction longer at 11/2.
Maybe, which scored for a fifth time on the bounce for Aidan O'Brien when denying Fire Lily in the Moyglare Stud Stakes three weeks ago, is likely to bid for a second successive Group One win in Friday's Fillies' Mile at Newmarket.
Also on Saturday, John Oxx has opted to pay the £16,000 fee to supplement his Doncaster winner Alanza for the Sun Chariot Stakes. The three-year-old has been put in at 11/2, with Dermot Weld's Emulous second favourite (9/2) behind market leader Saphresa.
Weld has also left Stunning View in Saturday's Cambridgeshire, while Martin is responsible for Pires, the only other Irish entry in the prestigious handicap. Both Pires and Stunning View can be backed at up to 25/1 to bring the drought to an end.
Closer to home, Oxx's exciting juvenile Akeed Mofeed is among 14 remaining in Sunday's Beresford Stakes at The Curragh. The Dubawi colt is 6/4 favourite with Paddy Power to secure the Group Two prize. It is 6/1 bar, with Aidan O'Brien responsible for nine of the 13 other entries.
A day after losing Ginger McCain, racing lost another great trainer yesterday when Michael Jarvis passed away after a long fight against cancer.
Jarvis (73) was one of Newmarket's longest-serving and most respected trainers when deteriorating health convinced him to hand over his Kremlin House yard to Roger Varian just before the start of the current season.
Among his best horses were the 1989 Arc winner Carroll House, Rakti, a very strong-willed multiple Group One winning colt, and Holding Court, the French Derby winner. He won the Haydock Sprint three times with Tudor Music (1969), Green God (1971) and Petong (1984), but no winners gave him greater pleasure than the two British Classics he won; the 1,000 Guineas with Ameerat (2001) for his principal owner Sheikh Ahmed and the Oaks with Sheikh Hamdan's Eswarah (2005).
As a headlad he 'led up' the 1966 Epsom Derby winner Charlottown for trainer Gordon Smyth, but as a trainer himself he came closest to winning the race with Hala Bek in 2006. The colt was fourth.
He started out as a jump jockey, riding three winners for Ryan Price before joining John Gosden's father Towser as headlad and staying on when Smyth took over. He was then taken on by TV rental pioneer David Robinson in 1968 serving as his private trainer for the first eight years of his career.
Varian said: "He was a true gentleman. He happened to be a great racehorse trainer as well."