Tuesday 24 April 2018

Legend can make skill count in Kilkenny

Michael Fortune

Michael Fortune

History will confirm that the Red Mills Champion Unraced Stake at Kilkenny is a wonderful stepping stone for future success, and all the evidence suggests this year's event is no exception.

The semi-finals of the valuable competition are the highlight of this evening's action and the draw has thrown up one particularly top-heavy contest.

With three of the four quarter-final winners in the line-up, the second semi is far stronger than the opening heat.

The exciting Skilful Legend, Shutthe Backdoor and Flawless Spirit are the aforementioned trio and they look set to provide a thrilling spectacle.

As with any race of this nature, the draw will play a big part in the outcome and, for that reason, the nomination goes to Perry Aylward's Skilful Legend. An impressive scorer in 29.01 last weekend, he has shown big pace and strength in both his career starts and can maintain his unbeaten record.

Should he hit the ground running, as he did in the quarters, his rivals could be left chasing shadows.

The opening heat is equally intriguing with no standout favourite. Material Man caught the eye in defeat behind Skilful Legend last week and would be a popular winner for local handler Murt Leahy.

Sprint time

One of the major sprint events of the year, the Peggy Kellys Islandbridge Sprint, gets underway at Harold's Cross this evening and it offers Graham Holland another opportunity to show off the strength of his kennel.

He has only two runners, but both Riverside Gold and Bellside Jon look set to triumph.

He was forced to drop Riverside Gold back in trip as he simply wasn't getting home over 525 yards. It could prove a stroke of luck, however, as he looks a very talented recruit to the sprinting ranks.

He lines out in Heat 3 where he is expected to start a warm favourite.

Belllside Jon has yet to win a race, but a repetition of his best trial form would see him come home clear in the last heat.

Reigning Treaty Cup and Southern Sprint winner Business Scholar faces a tough test in the opening heat, but should justify favouritism at the expense of Industry Price, while Catherines Drico can win the second heat if repeating anything close to his best.

At Youghal the Droopys Stud Champion Stakes begins this evening and a good card should attract a decent crowd. One that stands out as a likely scorer, if fit after a lay-off, is Star Ace in the final heat.

Yahoo Perlena also appeals in Heat 3. She produced some fine displays at Shelbourne Park recently and is a young bitch with a bright future.

Irish Independent

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