Weld's Waaheb to leave rivals bogged down
Despite large swathes of the county being hit badly with flooding, officials at Cork racecourse were optimistic yesterday evening that the track at Mallow would be fit for purpose ahead of this afternoon's card.
The riverside venue had been waterlogged earlier in the week and 10mm of rain were reported to have fallen on Thursday night, with more forecast to hit the area last night. If the fixture does beat the odds to survive, Dermot Weld's JP McManus-owned Waaheb appeals as nap material to get proceedings off to a flying start.
A largely disappointing seven-year-old, Mark Walsh's mount faces four others in the McCarthy Insurance Group Hurdle, with him and Willie Mullins' Turban sharing the top rating of 140. Waaheb is inconvenienced by having to concede 4lb to Turban, which won a beginners' chase in deep ground here last April.
However, in seven outings over flights previously, Turban ultimately proved one to avoid, failing to win after his debut victory at Thurles in November 2011. As such, he is worth taking on again now and Waaheb is best equipped to win, for all that the locally trained Silver Friend warrants respect for John Joe Walsh.
A triple bumper winner, Waaheb split Jezki and Bright New Dawn in a Grade One novice hurdle at Leopardstown last Christmas, though his season petered out thereafter. This term, he finished a respectable second in a Flat maiden at Navan in October, and subsequently ran better than his finishing position suggests when fourth of six to Rule The World at Naas.
Waaheb didn't jump entirely fluently there, yet was on the heels of the leaders at the last flight before keeping on well to the line. If he had run to his rating, he should have finished second, but there was enough promise in the performance to suggest that he would be worth keeping on side for now in a race like this.
Davy Russell can be sure of a warm welcome at his local venue following his unexpected split from Gigginstown earlier in the week, and each of his three rides have winning chances. The pick of them might be Boondooma in the maiden hurdle.
Robert Tyner's Concordin, which has a contingency entry at Naas tomorrow, would be a threat at his best in this two-miler, while Asitsohappens and Benrouge are others with chances.
Still, Boondooma's authoritative Limerick bumper win last Saturday proved that he is at the top of his game and he will love the deep ground.
Mullins and Paul Townend are expected to secure a short-priced double courtesy of triple bumper winner Wicklow Brave in the first maiden hurdle and the classy Blood Cotil in the beginners' chase, while Fermoy-based David Fenton could get on the score sheet with Avondhu Lady. Bryan Cooper's mount boasts a rating of 133 over fences, but she gets into a modest handicap hurdle here off just 104.
It won't be easy for the mare to lump around top-weight, but she is trusted to have the class to pull it off.