Monday 19 August 2019

Foxrock can justify Connell's curious Royal call

Johnny Ward

Not long ago, we expected to see Foxrock in the Lexus at Leopardstown over Christmas and, with all the respect the terrific racecourse that is Down Royal deserves, it is strange to see him there today.

With placed form in the top staying Grade Ones to his name, Barry Connell (right) made a curious decision in deciding to send this horse down the banks/hunter route as an eight-year-old.

His running in today's hunter chase at The Maze is arguably the main talking point of what is a smart card.

Note that neither bookmaker shops nor At The Races will show this meet, as is now the norm, and a huge crowd is expected at Down Royal.

Those who put their faith in Foxrock, assuming he retains even most of his ability, should be rewarded.

The opening maiden chase would not be out of place at Leopardstown. Burgas faced a hopeless assignment against Yorkhill at Fairyhouse and he excelled himself to finish second, though money for the returning Falcon Crest would be worrying.

The Adam & Ann Armstrong Memorial Handicap Chase is really difficult. Perhaps Ardmillan can strike for the locally-based Crawford team, though he has a fair bit to prove after pulling up on his reappearance.

The first maiden hurdle is another race that will be informative with a view to the future.

The Storyteller looked likely to win at this venue in November, only to fall, and his subsequent Punchestown second was rock-solid. He will be very difficult to beat under Keith Donoghue.

The Enda Bell Maiden Hurdle offers Black Ace another chance after a succession of placed efforts and this looks a pretty nice opening for the son of Yeats.

Each-way betting is advised in the handicap hurdle for conditionals and Tethra has solid credentials here, though she may not want the ground to get any deeper.

In the finale, Broken Soul should go close under Jamie Codd but preference is for Blairs Cove. Foxrock's rider, Katie Walsh, will have her eyes on a double here.

Irish Independent

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