Le Beau can clip wings of Natural High
With Dermot Weld in such irrepressible form, it doesn't require a great stretch of the imagination to picture The Curragh whiz's Natural High taking all the beating in the Guinness Handicap at Galway tonight.
The €42,500 feature event sees 18 horses take each other on over a mile and a half, but the other 17 might only be fighting for the places if Natural High continues to progress at the rate at which it has done so far.
The Sadler's Wells gelding landed a bumper here 12 months ago, and has since won two of its three starts on the Flat.
Natural High's sole defeat came over 14 furlongs at Ballybrit in October, when a muddling pace and the lack of a clear run probably cost him the race.
Most recently, he cantered up over the same trip at Killarney, so he certainly has a chance from a favourable draw of 16 on his handicap debut. That said, handicaps, by definition, are meant to bring horses together, and the assessor is taking no chances.
At Killarney, the horses that finished second, third and fourth are rated 72, 67 and 56, which makes Natural High's first-time mark of 90 look on the steep side.
Of course, we know what Weld is capable of around here but, when you combine that rating with the drop back to 12 furlongs on fast ground, 7/2 doesn't appeal in this company.
While only one three-year-old has won this race in nine years, Bob Le Beau is worth a speculative investment at up to double-figure odds. Trained by Jessica Harrington, Shane Foley's mount has the makings of a real improver.
Following two low-key efforts as a juvenile, Bob Le Beau broke its duck over 10 furlongs at Naas in May, before going on to win on its handicap debut off 83 at The Curragh. From there he went to Leopardstown, where he was desperately unlucky off 88 to go down by the width of a cigarette paper to Monday's winner Notalossonya.
When you consider how that one obliged by two lengths off a 3lb higher mark, the 1lb that Bob Le Beau received in defeat doesn't look at all harsh.
With just 8st 4lb to carry this evening, and from a nice draw in 13, the son of Big Bad Bob is fancied to do even better now that he steps up to 12 furlongs.
In the qualified riders' hurdle that gets proceedings under way, Kalellshan has it to do if he is to add to his success here on Monday evening. While he won in good fashion then, a net weight of 12st 3lb ought to steady Charles Byrnes' representative now.
Golden Grimshaw may be the one to keep on side. On its first run for James Lambe, the eight-year-old belatedly got off the mark over flights at Downpatrick two weeks ago.
Golden Grimshaw's previous outing, when a disqualified runner-up in a decent maiden at Limerick, confirms the theory that he is on an upward curve.
He gets in here off 104, which is just 6lb more than when he was operating at a much lower level last autumn, and the handicapper might have a bit more to do yet.
A two-year-old maiden follows, with Weld introducing Manacor, a Refuse To Bend colt that will need to be a bit special to deny Kevin Prendergast's When Not Iff. That one kept on well to be second to the fancied Belleau at Roscommon, so average improvement from that ought to make him hard to beat.
Weld's Raffaello Santi will probably be good enough to justify short odds in the Galway Publican's EBF Maiden, while Ah Ya Boy Ya gets the vote to secure what is a massively competitive Guinness Galway Blazers Handicap Chase. Any number of the 22 runners in that have some sort of chance, but Christy Roche's charge twice ran well to be second here last year, and can go one better now.
5.10 -- Golden Grimshaw (Nap)
5.40 -- When Not Iff
6.15 -- Ah Ya Boy Ya
6.50 -- Bob Le Beau
7.25 -- Raffaello Santi
7.55 -- Days Ahead
8.25 -- Caesar's Song