Kennedy's allowance can boost 'Craic'
On a competitive spread at Gowran Park, the concluding maiden is as good a contest as there is on the busy but low-key eight-race schedule.
Peter Fahey's Owega Star is the best horse on duty in the 14-furlong contest. A Grade Two hurdle winner that finished a gallant second in last year's Troytown Chase, the eight-year-old hasn't set the world alight in two previous outings on the level, though he did finish first and second in his only two bumper starts in 2011.
If Owega Star can recapture his best form, he would have to be the one to beat under Ronan Whelan. However, he has a little to prove after some sub-par outings, and Here For The Craic and Cillian's Return may be more likely to fight it out at the business end.
As mere maiden hurdle winners, neither horse has scaled Owega Star's heights over jumps, but they have been running well on the Flat despite their respective large physiques. Tony Martin's JP McManus-owned Cillian's Return kept on nicely to be second to Theos Well at Ballinrobe in June after struggling on the tight track.
While he will go close again, Ken Budds' Here For The Craic has the assistance of the excellent seven-pound claiming Jack Kennedy, and that allowance could prove critical. An eight-year-old that never raced on the Flat before June, the Millenary gelding has been second in four of his five runs.
He might always be vulnerable to something with a little more pace, but this longer trip will help his cause, as he has been running between 10 and 12 furlongs up to now. With that and Kennedy's booking in mind, Here For The Craic appeals as nap material.
In the claimer at the other end of proceedings, on ratings Jim Bolger's Vitalized is weighted to collect, while Aye Aye Skipper could get back to winning ways in division two of the apprentices' handicap. Johnny Levins did brilliantly to win twice in quick succession with his British import at Killarney and the Curragh.
A third start in eight days at Bellewstown proved too much, but Aye Aye Skipper has now had a week to recover. If he is back to his best, he is still well handicapped on his very best form, so he could go close again under top-weight for Caroline Murtagh.
In the fillies' maiden, Eddie Lynam's Aunt Sally, an unexposed daughter of Dark Angel, might take a bit of stopping. Chris Hayes' mount has twice run well to be placed recently and this is a modest seven-furlong affair.