Big week begins for Bunyan but Smullen can spoil party
It's a long way from Dundalk to Dubai - 7,799 kilometres to be precise - but trainer Darren Bunyan will be hoping for success on both fronts in the next week, starting with two runners at the Louth track tonight.
Fresh from one of the biggest wins of his training career as Hit The Bid scored in a Meydan handicap last week to collect nearly €90,000, it's an exciting time for the Curragh handler.
Hit The Bid left Ireland on December 27 with the Dubai Racing Carnival on his radar and after scoring on his second run - he was runner-up to Group Three winner Ertijaal on his overseas debut - Bunyan's stable star will go for a Group Two on Thursday.
With his wife Gillian looking after Hit The Bid's fortunes in Dubai, Bunyan will fly out on Monday to ensure preparations go smoothly before easing off the four-year-old, which he feels can develop into a Grade One performer, until Dubai World Cup night.
With over €6.5m up for grabs during the March 31 nine-race showpiece, it's a far cry from the Friday night lights at Dundalk but that's where Bunyan will be tonight with Clebourne a live contender in the opener (6.0).
Making his handicap debut off a mark of 60 and receiving three-year-old weight allowances, Chris Hayes' mount is an interesting contender stepping back to the minimum trip of 5f, which he ran well at on debut over course and distance in December.
His time will come soon but BLUESBREAKER is a horse in fine fettle and although his hat-trick bid was thwarted two weeks ago, Damien Joseph English's charge lost nothing in defeat and can score in the hands of Rory Cleary.
Winston Wolfe is Bunyan's other runner in the maiden (8.30) and the four-year-old has claims returning over a course and distance he finished second over but preference is for LADY DE VESCI.
Michael Halford's runner was behind Duke of Waspington on debut but the mount of Pat Smullen (above) is likely to improve significantly and can make the frame.
The feature handicap (7.30) sees Joseph O'Brien's recent Lingfield scorer Art Nouvelle tackle some Dundalk regulars and eight-time course winner TOGOVILLE can build on another fine effort two weeks ago to prevail for veteran Offaly pilot Smullen.