Ravished ready to vindicate Cooper's National selection
Bryan Cooper could be the man to keep on side in each of the two chases on tonight's €50,000 Midlands National card at Kilbeggan.
In the feature event over an extended three miles, Cooper had to choose between five Gigginstown Stud charges, including Akorakor, which provided the jockey with his latest win at the Westmeath venue on June 22.
Deserting the improved novice won't have been easy, but it would have been similarly hard for him to eschew two of Gordon Elliott's other runners, Make A Track and Fort Smith.
Indeed, each of that trio and Cooper's chosen mount, the Mouse Morris-trained Ravished, is on a hat-trick in this competitive edition of the valuable handicap that Michael O'Leary's locally-based firm has yet to claim.
Ravished is a previous course and distance winner, having got off the mark over fences at the track in April.
Prior to that, with just one win from 15 outings, he had been frustrating. Since thrashing the in-form Mallards In Flight here, though, he has gone on to further enhance his reputation, knuckling down to fend off the persistent Federici at Killarney in May.
That form has also since been held up to varying degrees by Leavethelighton and Your Busy. This evening, after a pretty modest 5lb penalty, Ravished is in off a mark of 128.
Maybe the handicapper has caught up with him, but he looked in his element here in April when there was plenty of cut in the ground, something that is a real possibility once again. In short, Ravished is still potentially on the upgrade now that he has found his rhythm, so he is fancied to take a bit of stopping for Cooper under a lovely racing weight of 10st 8lb.
Apart from the horses that Cooper passed over, Rohan's Pride and Protaras bring decent recent form to the table, as do the mares Definite Ruby and Perfect Promise.
Willie Mullins' Balnaslow is the fifth Gigginstown runner in the big race, but Cooper and the champion trainer combine for As De Ferbet in the previous beginners' chase. This is a decent race of its type for the time of year, with Sandra Hughes' dual Grade One-winning hurdler Guitar Pete also on duty in the 10-strong field.
Still, As De Ferbet was second to both Aerlite Supreme and The Job Is Right in the winter, and that experience should count now.
The irrepressible Elliott might score with The Scourge and The Absent Mare, while Gavin Cromwell's St Maxime appeals in the three-mile handicap hurdle. Twice successful over fences at Perth recently for her new handler, St Maxime looks quite favourably treated over the smaller obstacles.