Xsquared can stay on upward graph
Published 04/07/2014 | 02:30
Bellewstown's brief but vibrant racing season kicks off tonight with a competitive dual-purpose card that launches its popular three-day July Festival.
The four-runner Anglo Printers Novice Hurdle that ought to go the way of Dessie Hughes' hat-trick seeking Indian Icon is the only disappointing heat on the eight-race spread.
Half an hour earlier, a dozen vie for the €25,000 spoils of the featured Fast Shipping Handicap Hurdle over two miles.
Plenty have chances in an open contest, but the one that stands out is local handler Joanna Morgan's Xsquared, which Paul Carberry is aboard despite Noel Meade having a runner, albeit that is Maxim Gorky, a horse he hasn't ridden for three years.
The irrepressible 40-year-old former champion has never ridden Xsquared, but Morgan knows better than to leave him sat in the weigh room.
Still quite unexposed over flights after six starts, Xsquared has run just three times over hurdles since 2012, all at Ballinrobe.
He was second there and won last July before scooting up on his return 10 days ago, so he is clearly going in the right direction.
The six-year-old is nine pounds higher now, but he still has the scope to defy that hike.
On the Flat, the Resolve Race Cubes Handicap over a mile is the pick of the action, with Balrath-based Gavin Cromwell another Royal County trainer tipped to collect with Sretaw under Declan McDonogh.
A consistent mare that won twice last year and has been second on her last two starts, Sretaw split Naoise and Have A Nice Day at Leopardstown recently, form that reads well now.
Off a two-pound higher mark on her first visit to the picturesque Hill of Crockafatha venue, she is strongly fancied.
Ger Lyons' Gowran maiden winner Adroit is a threat, and the in-form Lyons could get the festival off to a flying start for the Co Meath set with the nap selection Bad News Bear in the mile maiden.
Lyons and Colin Keane might also collect with the progressive Down Royal victor Snowmane in the long-distance handicap, while at Wexford Robbie Power could be the man to watch.
The Summerhill native will go close on Aidan O'Brien's Beach Of Falesa in the maiden hurdle, with Presenting Beara his mount in the beginners' chase. Colm Murphy's charge was second in a decent Fairyhouse race behind Pageboy in May, form that stands out in modest company here.