Jocular can prosper for multi-tasking Sheikh
Published 25/04/2015 | 02:30
There will be a strong Irish Injured Jockeys presence at this afternoon's Limerick fixture, which features a novelty charity race that includes Johnny Murtagh and Arthur Moore among its participants.
In light of the recent serious injuries suffered by Robbie McNamara and Davy Condon, and with Philip Enright joining the likes of Barry Geraghty and Davy Russell on the sidelines after fracturing his left leg in a fall from Redwood Castle at Tipperary on Thursday night, it is a timely initiative.
In conjunction with the charity race will be the unveiling of a statue of Tim and Martin Molony, the legendary local brothers who dominated the jump racing scene on both sides of the Irish Sea in the 1940s and '50s. All told, then, the whole occasion is worthy of immense support.
A real coup for the charity race has been the booking of Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, whose Qatar Racing establishment is one of the emerging forces in international Flat racing, though he is also now dipping his toe in the water with some jumps horses.
Sheikh Fahad has a couple of runners on the main card, the Murtagh-trained Jocular in the mile maiden and Ger Lyons' Roheryn in the Listed race named in honour of the 90-year-old Martin Molony.
Of the two, Jocular might be the more likely to win, albeit the 16-runner affair that he contests is wide-open. In three starts as a three-year-old last year, the Champs Elysees gelding was placed twice, finishing second on his debut at Dundalk and again at Cork next time.
While he misfired on his final outing at Naas, he showed enough previously to suggest that he would be well up to winning a race like this, so he is tipped to do so under Gary Carroll.
In the €45,000 Listed event over 12 furlongs, Roheryn doubtless has a life. Successful in a similar race at Leopardstown last year, she was subsequently placed twice in Group company. If the Galileo filly is fully wound up, she will go close.
Jim Bolger's Answered and Tommy Stack's Waltzing Matilda are others to consider, but preference is for Dermot Weld's Stuccodor. Pat Smullen's mount is the highest rated of the seven runners, and he will come on plenty for his tame defeat in the Irish Lincoln.
Stuccodor also won't mind should the forecast rain get into the ground, so he has plenty going for him and it is worth noting that he is the Curragh handler's only runner on the card.
In the preceding mile handicap, Stack's Salariaq is trusted with the nap vote. This is another relatively competitive heat, but there was enough in Salariaq's third here on her handicap bow last week to suggest that she would be hard to beat next time.
The four-year-old, which finished first and second in her only outings last year, didn't get the clearest passage under Wayne Lordan nine days ago before keeping on to be third behind Pushkar.
Salariaq probably wouldn't have won anyway, but it was a display from which she should be able to build off a pound lower rating.
Lordan could also take the extended mile-and-three-furlong handicap aboard David Wachman's progressive Extreme Appeal, while Lyons' Chenega Bay is fancied in the three-year-olds' mile maiden.
On its track bow over seven furlongs at Gowran Park earlier in the month, this Kodiac gelding kept on nicely from the rear under Colin Keane. If he improves for the experience and for the step up to a mile, he could be the one to beat.
At Gowran Park tomorrow, the €55,000 Victor McCalmont Memorial Listed race takes centre stage. Weld reintroduces his highly progressive filly Carla Bianca in the nine-furlong contest, as the Dansili four-year-old strives to extend her unbeaten sequence to five. Any rain that falls will help Carla Bianca's cause, while Wachman's Legatissimo is another with a squeak.
However, the one that appeals as nap material is Joe Murphy's consistent six-year-old Euphrasia.
Without a win since adding a Leopardstown Listed race to an earlier Naas Group Three triumph in 2013, Euphrasia ran commendably well at a high level last year.
Her standout performance came when she pushed Noble Mission and Magician hard in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, and she was an eye-catcher on her return behind Fascinating Rock at Leopardstown.
Over a mile dead, she kept going gamely to again be third after leading early on. That will have brought her on, and, over this slightly longer strip, she might just have the class to see off all-comers under Carroll.