Joshua Lane's star quality should prevail at Tipperary
Joshua Lane lends a bit of star appeal to an otherwise low-key jumps spread at Tipperary this evening.
Eddie Harty's Gamut six-year-old has performed brilliantly in each of his three previous bumper starts. On his Naas debut last season, he finished second to the Punchestown Champion Bumper hero and Supreme Novices' Hurdle runner-up Shaneshill, before being denied in a Listed event at Ascot.
Joshua Lane then chased home Silver Concorde and Shaneshill at Cheltenham in March 2014. He wasn't seen after that until Leopardstown at Christmas when he never got into contention over flights on his first outing in JP McManus' silks.
He reverts to the level now for this evening's finale, and it will be disappointing if he doesn't justify the nap vote under Steven Clements.
Noel Meade's consistent Nina Carberry-ridden Killer Miller is a threat but shouldn't be quite good enough if both horses run to form, while Willie Mullins' Presenting newcomer Haymount is the other obvious danger.
Ruby Walsh, who partners Harty's Enumerator in the two-and-a-half-mile maiden hurdle, has a decent book of rides at the venue. He is on Paul Nolan's Emily Sinico in the mares' maiden hurdle, and the daughter of Flemensfirth should take a bit of beating.
Typical of her sire's offspring, the five-year-old is a big chaser in the making, but she has been progressing steadily over flights. She has been placed on her last two starts at Gowran Park and Navan, so she will be thereabouts if she can step up on those efforts now.
Walsh can also collect on Davinia's Tip in the handicap hurdle. He won on Adrian Maguire's mare over fences at Wexford off a mark of 113, which is six pounds higher than what she runs off in this. Having been first and second on her only two completed starts over flights, there's a chance that Davinia's Tip will prove something of a handicap blot. In the novices' chase, Walsh and his father Ted are represented by the facile Naas scorer Rossvoss.
While Rossvoss is clearly a player in the six-runner affair, Jessica Harrington's Hurricane Ridge appeals as the best horse in the race. A seven-time winner across both codes, Hurricane Ridge had a pipe-opener on the Flat at Dundalk in February. If he's straight enough now, he and five-pound claimer Paddy Kennedy could go close on ground that might be decent enough by the time racing gets under way.
At Dundalk tonight, Fact Or Folklore ought to take a bit of stopping in the extended 10-furlong fillies' maiden under Billy Lee. Willie McCreery's three-year-old kept on when third on deep ground at Cork on her reappearance, so she might strip fitter now.
Earlier, McCreery's Pat Smullen-ridden No Fear bids for back-to-back wins in the six-furlong handicap. When you factor in Connor King's claim, Octavia, second to No Fear last month, is six pounds better off for a length defeat.
That gives David Marnane's runner a chance of turning the tables, and she has the scope to do better on her sixth outing. However, No Fear obliged with a bit of authority last time, so he is trusted to defy the turnaround in the weights.