Wednesday 21 February 2018

Inside draw crucial for Vic in Cox Cup final

Midtown Raffa is sure to get a good reception in his first race since his Irish Independent Laurels success (Stock image)
Midtown Raffa is sure to get a good reception in his first race since his Irish Independent Laurels success (Stock image)
Michael Fortune

Michael Fortune

With the likely favourite Redwood Mick an absentee due to injury, tonight's IGB Cox Cup final has taken on a very open look but the draw can play a vital role with the red-clad Rastafari Vic nominated to land the prize for Waterford's Jackie Roche.

Rastafari Vic (9.30) battled on really well last week to beat Black Hawkeye and Redwood Mick and if he can repeat the 2.65 split from that run he is likely to lead around the bend and that would be halfway to victory.

On the clock the Willie Finn trained Saltmills Hero is fastest from the semis but a trap four draw will make things difficult, particularly as he is surrounded by Black Hawkeye, Hey Biddie, inside seeking Burgess Rumble and reserve Look At Marty. A very large crowd is anticipated and Rastafari Vic could send his Waterford supporters home happy.

Raffa's return

Carrying a winner's prize of €15,000, the BoyleSports Race of Champions is a hugely valuable event for just two runs around the Tralee 550 yards circuit. There are two extremely interesting semi-finals down for decision and local runner Midtown Raffa (9.12) is sure to get quite a reception in his first race since his Irish Independent Laurels success.

Moss O'Connor's dog knows this track like the back of his paw but he will need a slick start similar to the Laurels final if he to overcome the likes of Laughil Bolt, Blue Cafu, Rural Highway, Kilara Hey Mac and Trinity Forest. But Raffa has coped with tasks like this previously.

Despite the normal blistering early pace of Knocktoo Garry, I anticipate the second semi being a battle between Pat Buckley's Paradise Silva and Graham Holland's Sidarian Vega.

The latter has run only four races in Ireland, all at Tralee where he went unbeaten and hugely impressively through the GMHD Juvenile Classic. If Paradise Silva (9.27) can reproduce his St Leger-winning form after such a lengthy absence he could pick him up and he may be the more sensible selection.

There are a number of likely improvers in the Red Mills/ TSC Champion Juvenile heats at Kilkenny but on the evidence of form around the circuit we must narrow it down to the two dogs which served up such a thriller in the Red Mills Champion Unraced at the same track, Shutthe Backdoor and Skilful Legend.

The Brendan Matthews trained Shutthe Backdoor (9.12) won that event and is unbeaten after five runs. He can win Heat 3 while Perry Aylward's Skilful Champ can take the opening heat.

The opening round of the Longford Derby is down for decision at Longford and a few worth noting are Razldazl Al (8.12), Headman Chris (8.24) and Across The Way (8.36).

Irish Independent

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