Barry Geraghty to plunder featured handicap hurdle
Barry Geraghty can make his sole Killarney booking aboard Macnicholson pay off in this evening's €31,500 featured handicap hurdle.
The exquisite big-race practitioner will turn 35 next month but he continues to ply his trade enthusiastically during the summer months. Tonight, Macnicholson is Geraghty's only ride in the two races that he can participate in, and the suspicion is that the Jessica Harrington-trained five-year-old that carried him to victory at Punchestown in May can complete its hat-trick over flights.
With 15 largely in-form runners, the Racing Post App-sponsored two-one-furlong contest is undoubtedly a competitive affair worthy of its purse. Maxim Gorky, Queen Alphabet and Roman General are a few others that have obvious appeal, but Macnicholson is fancied to still be ahead of the assessor.
Prior to Punchestown, he brought a string of frustrating efforts to an end by winning decisively at Kilbeggan, and his handicap bow at the National Hunt festival was really taking. Off a mark of 122, he put a number of subsequent winners in their place, including the runner-up Pivot Bridge, which went on to win off a seven-pound higher mark at this picturesque venue next time.
Macnicholson has gone up nine pounds. That might prove to be surmountable for a horse with his scope, and, when you take into account the dour way that he overhauled Pivot Bridge, the extra furlong here is also going to play to his strengths.
The in-form Galway Plate-winning rider Shane Shortall could plunder what is a poor maiden hurdle on John Brassil's Jamesmichael, while Ronnie O'Leary's One Fine Morning gets the nod in the Martinstown Hurdle. This is another difficult handicap, but Jody McGarvey's mount is nicely treated over flights now that he has found his form again.
He bounced back to his very best to win a handicap chase off a mark of 100 last time, so an effective rating of 87 is too tempting to ignore now that he reverts to the smaller obstacles. On the Flat, Fastnet Mist has plenty appeal now that she drops in class for David Wachman and Wayne Lordan in the fillies' maiden, while at Kilbeggan James Dullea's Red Or White could follow his Tramore win by taking the €10,000 handicap chase.
The unexposed six-year-old was a decisive victor under Davy Russell on Friday. He is seven pounds higher now, but he has the potential to do better still at this discipline and the excellent Brian Hayes' invaluable three-pound claim helps negate the hike.
In the preceding FRS Recruitment Beginners' Chase over the same three-mile-one-furlong trip, Colm Murphy's Presenting Beara can collect for Robbie Power. A handicap hurdle winner off 102 at Punchestown last November, the Presenting six-year-old has been a bit hit and miss over fences, the pick of his four efforts being a second to Pageboy at Fairyhouse in May.
Fourth behind Croghill Tuppence here last time, he had a valid excuse on that occasion as he blundered badly six-out. If he jumps cleanly now, he won't be far away in a moderate affair.