'Jack' can prove Fitzgerald is back in Kilbeggan feature
Davy Fitzgerald, who provides the selection at Kilbeggan in this evening's feature Kilbeggan Patrons Club Handicap Steeplechase, provides a ready example of how tough jumps racing has become for many trainers.
The Askeaton, Co Limerick handler has nurtured the talents of some classy chasers such as Pearly Jack, Mister Top Notch and Operation Houdini.
In 2008-'09 he enjoyed ten winners, nine the season after. In the following two campaigns he had one winner altogether. It has been similarly lean since.
In Stonehall Jack, Fitzgerald has a horse that could yet develop into a low-weight player in some of the key staying handicap chases and his recent course-and-distance success augurs favourably, considering the idiosyncrasies of Westmeath's only racetrack.
David Splaine, who replaces Luke Dempsey, is a strong rider and decent value for his claim. This €16,000 heat can go the way of the bottom weight.
Racing commences with the Kilbeggan Opportunity Maiden Hurdle and Russellstown provides the form answer, since the seven-year-old's Tramore effort last month implies an edge over potential favourite Antiphony.
Orchard Road can snare the Like Kilbeggan Races On Facebook Handicap Hurdle under Cian Collins, a talented young rider well worth keeping an eye on.
Orchard Road, whose trainer Gordon Elliott speaks highly of Collins, ought to appreciate the better ground here.
The €18,500 Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle is a competitive contest, befitting the attractive purse. War Of The Pennys likes this track and may get the better of the hardy and consistent Draycott Place, whose rider Conor Brassil had a fine summer.
Ian McCarthy replaces Ruby Walsh in the Pat Doyle Memorial Maiden Hurdle aboard the Ted Walsh-trained Artesone, whose limitations render him no good thing. However, his form is solid and he may have enough to edge the Elliott-trained pair, Westinmare and Tajseer.
Katie O'Farrell steps in for Ruby in the Midland Breeders Supporting Kilbeggan Beginners Steeplechase, in which New Kid In Town warrants another chance. The ground is to the liking of the Gamut-bred, which likely has Seven Nation Army to beat.
Racing concludes with the Athlone (Pro/Am) Flat Race, in which Angelica Yeats gets the nap vote. Michael Ward's charge can only improve now that she is stepping up in distance after finishing fourth at Down Royal.