Progressive Clancy strand can fulfil potential on return to minimum trip
Sixteen go to post for the McWilliam Park Hotel Handicap Hurdle at Ballinrobe tomorrow. Of that number, a considerable percentage is dead wood, with just a handful of horses bringing recent form into the race.
Last month's Sligo winner Bean Chroi Bhriste heads the weights.
The Broken Hearted mare has a competitive first-time mark of 95, not least when you consider that her closest pursuer at Sligo, Benefit Of Porter, subsequently lost its maiden at Downpatrick before winning off 108 at Tramore.
That line of form is taken with a slight pinch of salt, though. Nothing else in the Sligo race has hinted at such strength in depth, and the suspicion is that Benefit Of Porter is improving at an above average rate.
With that in mind, Clancy Strand is put forward as an alternative. Having failed to show much on its first four starts, the JP McManus-owned son of Montjeu displayed definite promise when fourth off 84 at Listowel in June.
He confirmed that potential when second to Diamond Shower off 85 at Cork at the beginning of the month. Over two-and-a-quarter miles then, his effort faded between the final two flights, so the return to the minimum distance ought to be in his favour now.
Clancy Strand has gone up another 3lbs for that effort, but he is clearly progressive.
On the day's other card at Cork, Flash McGahon gets the nod to reverse placings with Celerina from their clash at the course last time. Celerina was a half-length to the good in second that day when the pair of them finished behind Patrickswell.
While Tommy Stack's three-year-old has plenty of scope to improve under man-of-the-moment Wayne Lordan, the weights are tilted in Flash McGahon's favour.
Having conceded 12lbs to Celerina three weeks ago, the John Oxx-trained six-year-old, which hasn't won since 2006, is 8lbs better off today. That might just be enough.