Wednesday 18 October 2017

Riyazan could prove a vital winner for Smullen

Jockey Pat Smullen
Jockey Pat Smullen

Johnny Ward

What has become an utterly compelling battle to win the jockeys' title race makes tonight's Dundalk fixture - which is of quite a high quality - all the more interesting.

Pat Smullen, who trails Colin Keane by four, has long been riding the Aga Khan's horses for Michael Halford and Halford will be hoping that the Iffraaj colt Riyazan can get back on the winning trail in the feature.

It is quite a decent race but his career will look somewhat up in the air if he cannot at least go really close.

Kevin Manning has a lively hope in Lake Volta, trainer of which, Mark Johnston, was a regular at Dundalk not too long ago but sends fewer steeds over nowadays from his Middleham, North Yorkshire base.

Speaking on the 'Punter's Platform' podcast, Smullen's agent Kevin O'Ryan said he would not back his ally at 6/4 to win the title.

"Colin is four ahead and even though his boss Ger Lyons keeps telling me he hasn't much left to run, they keep running and winning."

Keane has six mounts tonight to Smullen's five. Their collective dominance of the fixture here on Tuesday night looks unlikely to be repeated and Aidan O'Brien should take the first race with Declarationofpeace, which ought to win without Donnacha O'Brien having to work hard.

Considering the promise of the strapping Hark's debut effort, her subsequent run and placing in a claiming maiden tonight is somewhat alarming, yet cheekpieces may bring about improvement from Fozzy Stack's filly.

Quite a competitive contest, the Irishinjuredjockeys.com Nursery can go the way of Just Sherry, trainer of which - John Feane - has enjoyed a fine season. Hark's rider, Chris Hayes, can double up here on the Intense Focus-bred.

Plenty have a chance in the €30,000 fillies' handicap. Surrounding, the mount of County Mayo native Conor Hoban, must have every chance here on the back of her recent Curragh second in a big field, and her trainer, Halford, tends to target Dundalk.

The first half of the apprentice handicap sees the nap selection in Shelbe, which could be a key winner as Oisin Orr bids to win the apprentice title. This was a well-punted reserve last time when a close and somewhat unlucky third for the Banbridge barn of Matt Quinn.

In the second division, dead wood abounds, and a step up in distance may prove ideal for Orr's mount Little White Owl as David Marnane attempts to improve on a poor hit-rate this season.

They conclude with the 12-furlong handicap, one of the more lively betting heats of the evening in all probability.

Orr could make it three wins on the bounce here as his regular ally Tony Martin has a very lively contender in recent second Dancing Doll.

Irish Independent

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