Saturday 3 December 2016

Rathlin's Cheltenham form hard to overlook

Published 25/04/2011 | 05:00

2.35 Keelings Irish Strawberry Hurdle

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Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh have won this four years running, and Blackstairmountain has a live chance of making it five.

Second here in 2010 before winning a Grade One at Punchestown, Blackstairmountain ran well when seventh in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham.

On official ratings, Voler La Vedette is the pick. Colm Murphy's mare skipped Cheltenham, so she comes here fresh, with conditions to suit. Donnas Palm could also make his presence felt, as could Stonemaster.

Having run well in defeat on a number of occasions, that one has progressed to win twice since the ground dried up.

Won In The Dark, which Stonemaster beat at Cork last time, franked his form by finishing third to Big Buck's at Aintree.

Verdict: Stonemaster

3.10 Irish Field Handicap Hurdle

A cracking renewal of a handicap that Tony Martin has provided the answer to three times in four years. The local handler saddles two here, Green Mile possibly the more appealing on the pick of his form.

Rivage D'Or, well beaten at Cheltenham, cannot be written off for an in-form Dessie Hughes, while JP McManus's Ned Of The Hill and Taking Stock catch the eye.

Tony McCoy has opted for Ned Of The Hill on its first try at two miles and six furlongs, the Christmas Leopardstown winner having been one-paced over shorter at Naas lately.

Taking Stock, placed twice in testing ground over hurdles following two chasing falls, will be no back number. John Kiely's charge goes notably well on this surface.

Verdict: Taking Stock

3.45 Rathbarry & Glenview Studs Novice Hurdle

THE mare Dare To Doubt may be vulnerable here conceding weight, although the better ground should be in her favour.

Noel Meade's progressive Prima Vista, second to Dare To Doubt at Naas in February, is now 6lb better off for that five-length defeat, and remains open to improvement.

Tornedo Shay has been disappointing, quite the opposite to Rathlin. Philip Rothwell's six-year-old won at the second attempt over flights in March, before running with real credit when sixth in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham 10 days later.

Verdict: Rathlin

4.15 Irish Racing Post Champion

Point-to-point Bumper

After all the hype surrounding Michael O'Leary's intention to bid for the winner of this live on RTE, it would be ironic if his own Tackmaster were to prevail.

The four-year-old was the only finisher when he won at Rathcannon, but he obviously has ability, having been in command when falling at the last previously.

Corbally Ghost wasn't knocked about when second on his Lismore debut, so should be thereabouts for Noel Meade and Nina Carberry. Knockanard winner Kandinski is another to consider following a decent second in a bumper last month.

Verdict: Knockanard

5.30 Most Stylish Lady Novice Handicap Chase

Torphichen followed a Curragh Flat win with a game triumph over fences at Gowran last time. This won't be easy under 11st 10lb, but he is the class horse in the race.

Having raced keenly before pulling up at Leopardstown in February, the Tony Martin-trained Osirixamix may be happier now that he reverts to handicap company on better going, while the consistent Jigalo is another that will relish the underfoot conditions that are expected at Fairyhouse today.

Uncle Tom Cobley needs to improve on a slightly disappointing second to Coscorrig in March. On a previous third to Gentle Alice, though, he is not badly handicapped.

Verdict: Uncle Tom Cobley

6.0 John Fowler Memorial EBF Mares' Chase

For Bill's excellent sequence came to an end when Aura About You got the better of her last time, and she may not be nearly as effective again due to the drying ground.

Aura About You reopposes off 6lb worse terms here, but Paul Nolan's mare has scope to improve on just her fourth chasing start.

Coscorrig is much more experienced and will love the ground, so cannot be discounted after an impressive win at Navan. Her stablemate Shirley Casper may also factor. A winner at Naas in March, the Presenting mare fell early at Aintree.

Verdict: Shirley Casper

6.30 Follow Us On Facebook Handicap Chase

Red Basil has been running well and won't be far away over a three-mile trip that always brings out the best in him.

He was a six-length winner over Waterville at Gowran Park the time before last and followed that up with a third-placed effort behind The Hard Hat at Wexford.

Guts For Garters is another that appeals from the foot of the page, and was second to Hold the Pin at Tramore, but there is a couple further up the weights that may have more class for this contest.

Erritt Lake is one that needs this good ground and hasn't had it since winning at Thurles in October, so he must enter calculations for Dessie Hughes.

Askmeroe is less ground-dependent. That one has been lightly raced this term, showing up well when second at Navan most recently.

Verdict: Askmeroe

Irish Independent

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