Medicean Man can make Mercury rise
While Irish raiders at Cheltenham will be the subject of conversation today, the overseas visitors to Dundalk look liable to gain some prize-money this evening too.
It is difficult for British jumpers to make much impact in Irish handicaps and few even attempt it but it is a different tale on the level, as evidenced at Navan on Wednesday. Paul Midgley, citing a lack of opportunities at home, sent two horses to the Co Meath venue and both won.
Tonight's featured Listed Mercury Stakes has attracted steeds from seven different British yards, testament to the attraction and success of this excellent racecourse. The pot is not huge but the favourable exchange rate is proving alluring to British trainers and Jeremy Gask may strike with the tough Medicean Man.
This ten-year-old has run 71 times, winning a dozen races. He is no stranger to travelling, often running in the UAE, and his recent short-head second at Ascot suggested he is as good as ever. He has a fine polytrack record too.
This is a cracking race, all that Dundalk officials could have hoped for, and the majority of these have some sort of chance. Both Ardhoomey and The Happy Prince are rated 112 but drawn high in their bid to keep the bounty at home.
Co Tipperary native Kevin Ryan has a rare runner at the track in Big Time in the nightcap. This strapping five-year-old, initially trained in Ireland, has the assistance of Pat Smullen, the predictable port of call for most British-based trainers when they have an Irish runner.
Smullen, who will soon be again crowned champion rider, has bolted up in that race this year. He has never been riding better and could be key to Hes Our Music in the opening claimer, a useful race of its type.
The Pat Flynn-trained horse is a course-and-distance winner and the chances are Smullen will try to make the running. Likely he can hold on.
The Crowne Plaza Race & Stay Handicap is also a pretty useful contest and Jan Van Eyck may be worth chancing off a low weight for in-form trainer Ger O'Leary. The nursery is one of quite a few difficult races to solve on this card. Willie McCreery, trainer of Evies Wish, has combined with Billy Lee to devastating effect this term. This well-drawn filly looks on a reasonable mark and, typical of horses by Holy Roman Emperor, she is pretty straightforward.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained London can go one better in the mile maiden after getting grabbed close home at Cork last Saturday. He was backed at 1/100 in running then and is taken to defy the coffin-box draw in 14.
That said, Kitten Loves Roses has to be rated a threat for Dermot Weld and that man Smullen.