Newcomer Knocknanuss one to note for wily Winters
Mick Winters' only winner of 2015 came at Tipperary recently and the shrewd north Co Cork-based handler sends a strong team to the Limerick Junction venue tonight.
It might be asking a lot for the dual Galway Hurdle victor to depart with a small handful of winners, but most of his five runners should have a big say in their respective heats. Of the quintet, there is none more intriguing than Knocknanuss, which will be ridden by the trainer's talented nephew Finny Maguire in the concluding P2P.ie bumper.
On its point-to-point debut at Killeagh in January, the Beneficial five-year-old beat Go Long, a Hurricane Run brother to Rhinestone Cowboy and Wichita Lineman that has since been third in an English bumper.
A week later, Knocknanuss was knocked down to Willie Mullins and his right-hand man Harold Kirk at Brightwells in Cheltenham for £180,000, yet he has since been returned to Winters and his original owner, Brian Sweetnam, who also owns Rebel Fitz.
That happens from time to time, but Knocknanuss' value will only go one way were he to win tonight, so it will be fascinating to see if he can live up to his potential.
At the top of the card, Winters and his old ally Davy Russell could take the maiden hurdle with Theos Well. The Boomerang Animal Bedding-sponsored two-miler isn't heavy on quality, but Theos Well, Patsio and Ballybryan have all displayed reasonable levels of ability.
Theos Well won a Listowel bumper two years ago, and he was placed in each of his three hurdle starts, most recently when third at Cork last August. In three outings on the level this spring, he has run respectably, so he should be 100pc fit , which would make him a formidable rival. The other one of Winters' that might go close is Jansboy in the Kedrah House Stud Beginners' Chase.
Ancient Sands and Horendus Hulabaloo have claims, but Jansboy showed plenty when placed in four of his first five chasing starts last year. A winner off 109 over flights, he will be straighter for a recent point-to-point run so he should be thereabouts now under Pierce Gallagher.
In the Ryans Cleaning Event Specialists Handicap Hurdle, Oscar Sam warrants the day's nap vote for Philip and Luke Dempsey.
Just denied by Duty Dance in a decent Navan contest when last seen in March, the progressive six-year-old is four pounds higher now, a burden that is wiped out by his excellent young rider's five-pound allowance.
In the Glenview & Rathbarry Stud Novices' Hunter Chase, Liam Burke's Island Master is fancied to make the most of a slight drop in trip. Behind Definite Surprise over three miles at Cork, Derek O'Connor's mount can make amends after being just run out of second by the re-opposing Doctor Braveheart.
At Naas last night, Jim Bolger and stable jockey Kevin Manning were the men to follow as the pair landed a treble.
The win of Pleascach in the featured Blue Wind Stakes was achieved in real style. Manning's mount was still travelling powerfully some way out as Euphrasia came back to the field before she bounded away from Dermot Weld's Newmarket runner-up Zannda.
In total command over a furlong out, the 10/11 favourite finished over eight lengths clear of Zannda. Pleascach's effort added further lustre to a Listed event run at Navan in which Bolger's charge was second to Jessica Harrington's Bocca Baciata with subsequent Cheshire Oaks winner Diamondsandrubies in third.
Earlier, Bolger's Godolphin-owned Round Two (3/1) made an impressive debut in the six-furlong contest, while Novis Adventus (5/1) later struck for the same team in the ten-furlong maiden.