Schumpters Lad can throw his weight about
After the bedlam of Cheltenham, jump racing returns to an altogether more modest level at home this weekend. Gowran Park stages a busy seven-race programme that gets under way at 2.20 this afternoon, while tomorrow Cork racecourse in Mallow warms up for its three-day Easter racing festival with a similarly well-contested card.
In today's feature, the Evening Racing At Gowran Park Handicap Hurdle, 23 hopefuls are set to do battle in what looks a wide-open contest. The brilliantly consistent Farringdon tops the weights for Prunella Dobbs and Davy Russell, but it is Schumpters Lad that is taken to score.
Representing PJ Colville's Tipperary stable, Schumpters Lad has finished out of the first four on only one of his eight career starts in point-to-points and under rules. He has twice made the frame in maidens this season, having initially finished second in a bumper at Navan on his racecourse debut at Naas in October.
That effort, and his two runner-up finishes in point-to-points, came on good ground. With the going at the Kilkenny track expected to ride similarly well, Schumpters Lad has strong claims off a light weight on his handicap debut.
In the novice hurdle that follows the feature, Michael Hourigan and Adrian Heskin can continue their superb week by collecting with Awkward Moment. This is a decent novice contest, with Cass Bligh and Gates Of Rome possibly the best of the six last-time-out winners. However, Awkward Moment has long been held in high regard by his handler, and he has really begun to fulfil his potential on his last two outings. Having landed a bit of a touch at Down Royal in December, he impressed again when staying on to be second to New Phase at Fairyhouse last month.
Jim Bowie, a Downpatrick bumper winner, could score for Noel Meade in the opening maiden hurdle, while P'Tit Fute may be worth consideration on his third attempt at fences in the beginners' chase.
At Cork tomorrow, Tony Martin's booking of Ruby Walsh on Siberian Tiger ought to see the frustrating five-year-old sent off favourite in a race that lacks strength in depth. A runner-up on three of his last four hurdling starts, Siberian Tiger was beaten by Gold Cygnet at Thurles in February. That was his first run since November, so he is entitled to come on. Walsh gets the leg up on American Job in the main event, the Racing Home For Easter Festival Hurdle. However, the TJ Nagle-trained runner could struggle to deal will Footy Facts, which is proven at this level, and is a reliable sort.
Rossdara, representing the father-and-son partnership of Tom and Bryan Cooper, gets the nod in the Navigation Road Novice Handicap Hurdle. This is a competitive heat, but the Downpatrick scorer may not be badly handicapped off 110, and young Cooper is good value for his seven-pound claim.