'Russian' could be put in his Place at Sligo
Rachael Blackmore has never ridden over Sligo's fences before so she will get quite the thrill aboard the habitual tearaway The Black Russian, on which she won in a Ballinrobe hurdle race recently, in the €17,000 Joe Henry Memorial Handicap Steeplechase.
According to Danny Mullins, the chase track "rides well. There is far more room over fences compared to over hurdles around there. It takes plenty of getting on soft ground."
Likely Blackmore will get another nice tune out of The Black Russian, but he may struggle to last it out on the ground and the Mullins-ridden Draycott Place is preferred on a day that should produce some riches for the John Ryan barn.
Ryan has had his horses in excellent shape of late and Willow Grange can gain an overdue success in the finale. Conditions at this stage will be extremely testing, with all races run on the chase track today. The going is heavy at Sligo, with the situation being monitored, though they had a relatively dry day yesterday.
Read more: Kennedy gets positive injury bulletin
The opening race, the mares' beginners' chase, can go the way of Retour En France, which made a pleasing Irish debut at Galway. Note she is the only runner on the card for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh's sole ride.
The Kilcawley Construction Steeplechase will emphasise stamina. Sizing Coal was last seen finishing third over three miles and six furlongs at Punchestown and, while his absence is a concern, he is more solid than Another Rebel, which effectively planted himself at the start before being scratched recently at Ballinrobe.
British-raider Moonlit Show impressed with an all-the-way victory in Fairyhouse's Listed Blenheim Stakes yesterday. This was a first Irish winner for Newmarket trainer Charlie Fellowes and in-form Billy Lee did the steering in a moderate renewal of the €50,000 heat.
Read more: Harzand going solo for Weld
Lee said: "She was good. Charlie was very confident. He's at the sales. It'll be a good buzz for him down there."
Lee, enjoying his best season to date, went on to complete a double aboard Edward O'Grady's Roconga (11/2) in the last and is closing in on third-placed Seamus Heffernan in the jockeys' table.