Bolger goes hunting for Dundalk gold
Jim Bolger is trusted with the nap vote via Qatari Hunter on the opening night of Dundalk's winter series.
The all-weather venue's autonomous campaign has been a source of real joy for many handlers, none more so than Mick Halford, who has emerged as the leading trainer for the past three years.
He will doubtless make a bold bid to be crowned champion again, and his Kadra could well be a danger to Qatari Hunter in the seven-furlong maiden. The Aga Khan filly ran well in two decent turf maidens in the summer.
If she improves for her break, she should go very close. However, Qatari Hunter is fancied to take a bit of stopping. The Footstepsinthesand colt made his debut just 18 days ago, keeping on gamely to finish fourth behind A Year To Remember in deep ground at Limerick.
It was a fair effort on bad ground in a decent enough race. If Qatari Hunter, the only runner on the card for Bolger, comes forward for the run, then, he could prove hard to stop under Kevin Manning.
Halford might get off the mark with his other two-year-old runner, Indrahar. This Raven's Pass filly has been placed in both of her starts to date, latterly chasing home Smash Williams at the Curragh. That is serious form in the context of tonight's opposition, so Godolphin's half-sister to Viztoria is expected to prove a formidable conveyance for Shane Foley.
Ballydoyle's Lord Justice is the danger. Ana O'Brien's mount didn't quite get home over a mile at Navan, so the drop back to six furlongs for this maiden gives him a real squeak.
Hat Alnasar is also expected to collect for Halford in the mile handicap. A course winner, the top-weight has run really well in defeat on his last two starts, and is competitively handicapped when you factor in Conor McGovern's seven-pound claim.
Another that appeals as being favourably treated is Doc Holliday, whose trainer Eddie Lynam earned the inaugural all-weather crown in 2012. Doc Holliday is one of eight on duty in the seven-furlong handicap.
The top horse Kodiac's Back is the one to beat, but there are ticks in a lot of boxes for Doc Holliday. Successful off a mark as high as 76 a year ago, he is down to 60 now.
Off 65 here last time, he ran quite well to be third. Robbie Downey's partner sports a first-time visor now, and that could prove to be the final link in the chain.