Shinrock ready to go full distance
Shouldering top weight in two of the three featured events at Naas this afternoon will hardly prevent either Shinrock Paddy or year-younger treble-seeker Ballyhaunis from obliging once more in the colours of their enthusiastic owners Barry Connell and Susannah Ricci.
The Limestone Lad Hurdle, which has deservedly been recognised by the National Hunt authorities with elevation to Grade Three status, and the Irish Racing Writers Novice Hurdle at Listed level, back up the Grade Two Woodlands Park 100 Club Novice Chase on an interesting programme.
The latter contest, backed by a group supporting the Kildare venue in a practical way, includes a rematch from Leopardstown between Boston's Angel's immediate Fort Leney Chase pursuers Quito De La Roque and Western Charmer in opposition to runaway Punchestown victor Royal De La Thinte.
Punters, however, should be aware that the favourites were turned over in each of these races a year ago and the forecast for wet and windy weather overnight, continuing into the afternoon on ground already soft to heavy, might profitably be borne in mind on this occasion.
The Limestone Lad Hurdle, in which Ebadiyan was a 9/1 scorer 12 months back, appears particularly competitive, with both the ratings and underfoot conditions pointing to the penalised trio Shinrock Paddy, Donnas Palm and Aitmatov likely to be tested by often-placed pair Stonemaster and On The Way Out.
Attempting an extra three furlongs now in the mud will hardly help Won In The Dark's cause, but a chance is taken that a return to the scene of his most recent success and a more suitable two miles, three furlongs trip will bring out the best in Shinrock Paddy.
Connell's Deploy gelding ran right away from Rhyl Accord in his novice hurdling days at Navan around this distance and Paul Nolan's charge appeared to be found wanting for stamina, rather than ability, behind Mourad at Leopardstown recently.
Their exertions already this term appear to have taken the edge off Noel Meade's duo Donnas Palm and veteran Aitmatov, so Stonemaster might emerge as the main threat to the top weight before Davy Russell and Dessie Hughes go their separate ways half an hour later.
Strictly on the visual impressions from their Leopardstown clash, Russell's mount Quito De La Roque, rather than the Hughes-trained Western Charmer, looks the one to beat in the Woodlands Park Novice Chase, even if fellow French import Royal De La Thinte looked every inch a born chaser when getting off the mark in style for the new alliance of Jim Dreaper and the big-spending Potts family partnership at Punchestown.
London-based couple Rich and Susannah Ricci likewise have been indulging their passion for the winter game in particular by acquiring some choice recruits, and former Flat racer Ballyhaunis has done enough to suggest he has what it takes to progress further in their colours.
The son of Daylami, which has already delivered over timber at Listowel and Thurles, can give weight and a beating in the Irish Racing Writers promotion to Thomond O'Mara's Gowran Park maiden hurdle victor Tornedo Shay as well as Enda Bolger's revitalised L'Ami.
Successful and promising displays respectively at Leopardstown last month by Seamus Roche's eminently progressive Jim Will Fix It and the Gordon Elliott-trained Dantes King point to their genuine claims for victory at either end of this afternoon's interesting programme.