Sunday 25 February 2018

Blackstairmountain to make profitable switch

Willie Mullins. Photo: Getty Images
Willie Mullins. Photo: Getty Images
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Bellewstown's hugely popular three-day fixture gets under way, courtesy of a competitive Flat card this evening, with a familiar jumping name one of the highest-rated horses on duty.

Blackstairmountain, a dual Grade One winner in the winter discipline, tackles the Meath Farm Machinery Qualified Riders' Race at the picturesque Crockafatha venue.

The only representative of the Willie Mullins stable on duty here, Blackstairmountain hasn't run on the level since landing a similar maiden under Patrick Mullins at Galway three years ago.

In the meantime, the seven-year-old, second in good company at the Punchestown Festival last time, has proved himself a consistent, if at times frustrating, horse over jumps, and it will be a surprise if any of his six rivals are equal to this task.

At her best, Ballydoyle's Flavia Tatiana, which lines out under young Sarah O'Brien, might give him something to think about, though the inferior-rated dual Dundalk scorer isn't favoured by the weights.

Sarah's more experienced sibling, Joseph, is taken to collect on the stable's I Have A Dream in the preceding maiden, while the featured Fast Shipping Ireland Handicap promises to be an intriguing sprint.

Bogini, which won at Leopardstown yesterday, Phebes Wish and Faleena all hold obvious chances, as might Greek Canyon if he copes with the forecast soft ground.

One that is proven in the mud is local handler Michael Mulvany's Battleroftheboyne.

Unsighted in the valuable sprint at the Curragh on Saturday, the three-year-old had been running well in more modest company previously, so this drop back in grade looks ideal.

At Wexford, Mullins and Ruby Walsh are fancied to collect with the returning Gagewell Flyer in the beginners' chase, though the same partnership's Raptor is passed over in favour of Baily Green in the Audrey McGrath Memorial Chase.

Mouse Morris' charge has been a revelation since the ground dried up, twice winning in style from the front at Roscommon. Over today's two-mile journey, the David Casey-ridden runner's pace might just expose Raptor.

Walsh should also go close on Tony Martin's Tepalo in the second maiden hurdle, with Spring Hawk napped in the mares' edition.

Just denied at Limerick last time for Stamullen's Tom McCourt, the Hawk Wing mare is steadily improving. If she progresses again, Tim Carroll's mount will be the one to beat.

Irish Independent

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