Oceanway set to boost Johnston's Dundalk haul
WITH seven winners from just 22 runners at Dundalk since 2010, Mark Johnston boasts an impressive 32pc strike-rate on his cross-channel all-weather forays.
The Yorkshire handler saddles his first five raiders of 2012 at the Co Louth venue tonight, and it will be a surprise if his lorry heads for the boat home without a winner aboard. Indeed, his Oceanway is fancied to land the nap in the Follow Dundalk On Facebook Race. Successful off 93 at York, this Street Cry filly ran off 97 when last seen finishing down the field in the November Handicap.
On those figures, bearing in mind that Oceanway receives 7lb from the Andrew Lynch-ridden Solo Performer -- the next highest-rated of the six runners in this with a mark of 90 -- she is the clear pick under Johnny Murtagh.
Flavia Tatiana, representing Aidan and Joseph O'Brien, could be a live threat despite winning off only 77 here a fortnight ago. Drawn on the rail, she may still be improving.
Wayne Lordan could steer Johnston's recent Southwell winner Ecossaise to victory in the first mile handicap on the card, while Pat Smullen has serious claims on Tsar Paul for James Nash in the opening conditions race. Just denied under Fergal Lynch a week ago, Tsar Paul is now the joint-highest rated runner in the 14-strong line-up, and is clearly in form.
Lynch switches to David Marnane's Almadaa instead, having ridden that one to win off a mark of 55 a fortnight ago. However, off a 10lb higher mark now, Almadaa also has to overcome a wide draw in stall 11.
Smullen could secure a couple of further winners on the Harry Rogers-trained duo Cave Artist and Elusive Express.
The last-named Elusive City filly has been a staying-on second on her two most recent outings here, so the step up to 10 furlongs in the 8.20 ought to suit.