Saturday 25 November 2017

Coleman could be the National Hero

Jonjo O'Neill has sporting chance of livening up quiet campaign with Ayr glory

Jessica Harrington is presented with the Philips Lighting Sports Manager award for March by Dave Murphy (Philips) with Sizing John and Kate Harrington on board
Jessica Harrington is presented with the Philips Lighting Sports Manager award for March by Dave Murphy (Philips) with Sizing John and Kate Harrington on board

Johnny Wardon

He may recently have joined the ranks of the pensioned but Jonjo O'Neill has plenty of winners left to train, and Another Hero could provide the Corkman with a big-race success towards the end of the campaign in today's Coral Scottish Grand National.

O'Neill, so popular a member of the training ranks, has had a relatively quiet campaign. More Of That's career has derailed, it seems, and the barn lacks a star.

Another Hero may not amount to stardom but his claims are pressing in today's event. JP McManus' steed is fitted with cheekpieces, but there seems little wrong with his attitude and there is a case to be made that he has some scope off his rating of 136, with the excellent Aidan Coleman in the saddle.

Running off 136, Another Hero was just 12/1 in last year's Irish National (a 27-runner race) when falling, and that would equate to a higher figure in Britain. He was nicely backed at Cheltenham under Jonjo's son of that name, only to suffer interference and never threaten.

At eight years of age, he should have more to give and is preferred to an arguably more solid contender in Vicente, which went early in the Aintree National but is clearly handicapped to go close as he attempts to emulate his win in this event 12 months ago.

Stablemate Keltus, however, could strike for the Nicholls yard in the Weatherbys Hamilton Novices' Handicap Chase. This one was nicely clear of third when last seen at Cheltenham's October fixture, yet is on the same mark today.

It perhaps is a little surprising that Cloudy Dream tackles the Jordan Electrics Future Champion Novices' Chase, having seen Grade One combat when runner-up at both Cheltenham and Aintree. He was beaten by Flying Angel then but is taken to turn it around under Brian Hughes.

The Scotty Brand Handicap Chase is a tough race and Mixboy, no threat at Cheltenham, is a shot in the dark for Keith Dalglish.

Midterm commences his four-year-old campaign in Newbury's Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes, in which the potential of Crimean Tatar wins the argument. The Sea The Stars colt has to improve after winning on the all-weather in November but there was a lot of class about that display and Hugo Palmer believes that he can go on to better things.

Though held at Doncaster on his return, Muntahaa also has to be respected, Jim Crowley riding for boss Hamdam Al-Maktoum.

The Dubai Duty Free Stakes is a cracker, with Aidan O'Brien sending over Rain Goddess, perhaps a tip in itself that her Leopardstown running can be built upon. She has the guts of a stone on form to find with Queen Kindly but there is nothing to say she cannot improve with experience, and she offers each-way potential.

Likely favourite Dabyah is the highest-class offspring to have raced in the Northern Hemisphere by the stallion Sepoy, a champion two-year-old in Australia.

This could be a seismic year for Frankel's offspring and Dream Castle can emerge as a Guineas contender - the stallion responsible for Thursday's Craven winner, Eminent - by taking theJLT Greenham Stakes. Backed as if he'd win on his recent Doncaster bow, Dream Castle duly did - and he was pretty raw in doing so for Saeed Bin Suroor.

Ballydoyle sends over War Secretary, which illustrated a taking attitude in scoring on his Dundalk return, but that form would hardly suffice here.

Given Richard Fahey's smashing Be Wiser Insurance Spring Cup Handicap record - three wins in the past decade - it is surprising that he is responsible merely for two of the longer shots. One could chance Another Touch for the Louth native, even if he never threatened at all at Doncaster.

However, preference is for Eminent's stablemate Chelsea Lad, which is surely still a step beyond the handicapper and has Ryan Moore in the plate.

Watching Brief . . .

Two young people in racing have taken the plunge and are to become fully licensed trainers.

Olly Murphy (25), a son of well-known bloodstock agent Aiden and his wife Anabel – who trains in Warwickshire – has been a key player in Gordon Elliott’s team since joining the Meath handler four years ago.

A big Aston Villa fan, he may get the chance to attend more games, as he is to set up his yard in his native England.  There was no surprise that Murphy made the bold step but certainly some when Sarah Lynam tweeted on Thursday that she had too.

“Delighted to say that I’ve been granted my trainer’s licence. Fingers crossed for some luck this season and happy, healthy horses.”

Sarah rode at the track and is a daughter of Eddie, whose success with sprinters has been amazing in the past decade. She will lack nothing in terms of guidance from dad.

After college, she went to work for Jim Bolger for two months, then spent over two years working for Willie Mullins. She then moved Down Under to join the barn of Gai Waterhouse before assisting her father for a few years.

Given that the majority of trainers are barely surviving, these two deserve all the luck that comes their way.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport