Blair Perrone can enhance Martin's fine form at Gowran
Tony MARTIN is trusted to continue his booming recent form with the smart Blair Perrone at Gowran Park this afternoon.
A cross-card St Patrick's Day double for the brilliant Co Meath handler took his domestic running tally for the season to 35, one more than his previous best with six weeks of the campaign still remaining.
His horses are operating at a 16pc strike-rate that also tops anything he has managed before, and the newfound support of another influential owner in Malcolm Denmark is evidence of his consistent appeal to the sport's big players.
Blair Perrone is owned by one of Martin's most staunch backers, John Breslin, and he is fancied to take a bit of stopping in today's novices' hurdle under Ruby Walsh. The €15,500 two-miler is a decent race without featuring much in the way of superstars, but Blair Perrone has the potential to develop into a serious operator.
At Perth last May, the Rudimentary gelding held on gamely to deny Okotoks, which Martin (above) subsequently purchased on behalf of Denmark. On Blair Perrone's second start over flights at Leopardstown, he beat the 2014 Champion Bumper victor Silver Concorde with a touch of style.
While he then made little impression in a pair of graded races behind Douvan and Nichols Canyon, this relatively modest seven-runner affair is a far more winnable contest. If Blair Perrone is in anything like the form that saw him thwart Silver Concorde over Christmas, he should win.
Scooping, Toushan and Samson Bill bring winning form to the table, but Domesday Brook could prove the selection's most potent danger. Henry de Bromhead's charge finished just behind Blair Perrone in the Punchestown race that Douvan won after winning decisively at Navan, and he looks as though he should have scope to progress on just his fifth start.
The pick of Walsh's other two rides on what is a low-key card might be Golden Boot in the two-and-a-half-mile maiden hurdle. Oliver McKiernan's Westerner six-year-old has been placed in his last three hurdle starts outside of Grade One company, going closest when keeping on to be a length second to Captain Von Trappe at Naas earlier in the month.
However, Michael Hourigan's Undressed is preferred as nap material here. Seemingly unsuited by bumpers, in two starts over flights the Lost World gelding has been third to No More Heroes and second to Oscar Knight, both times at Punchestown. Behind Oscar Knight last month, Undressed emerged from the pack to press the otherwise straightforward winner after the last flight.
That confirmed that this two-and-and-a-half-mile trip is probably as short as Mark Enright's mount wants, but he is open to improving sufficiently enough to collect here.
The €16,500 handicap hurdle that follows is the card's most valuable event, with 16 set to vie for the spoils. It is as open as you would expect, and the one to keep on side may be Mary Louise Hallahan's Malt Gem.
A course winner over fences two weeks ago, Malt Gem was just touched off here in a similar race to this a year ago off 114. He is two pounds higher now, but, if he performs to the full of his potential under Davy Russell, he could prove hard to beat.
The consistent Jimmytwotimes and recent Fairyhouse winner Rightdownthemiddle are others to consider, likewise Mine Now, which won with a bit of authority at Navan earlier in the month.
Paul Nolan's Shuilamach could get the job done in what is a modest mares' beginners' chase if she is none the worse for a heavy fall on her fencing bow at Thurles, while Moss Grove can add to his slightly fortuitous win at Limerick on Sunday in the three-mile-one-furlong handicap chase.
In his last three starts over three miles or further, Eamonn Fehily's nine-year-old has won twice and been second. He seemed to benefit from the application of first-time blinkers at Limerick, so a five-pound penalty gives him a chance again under Danny Mullins off a light weight.