Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 18 January 2020

Bolger's 'Miss' can hit the target in Birdcatcher

Trainer Jim Bolger. Photo: Sportsfile
Trainer Jim Bolger. Photo: Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Ever wondered why British horses are never seen in Irish nurseries and vice-versa?

The reason is simple and perplexing: the British handicapper, for years, did not want to rate Irish juveniles; the Irish marksman returned the favour. In order for a British two-year-old to run in an Irish handicap, he must have won or run here thrice.

No doubt Naas' historic At The Races EBF Birdcatcher Premier Nursery tomorrow would be popular with raiders should they be allowed partake. A whopping field of 17 lines up and a chance is taken on Miss Qatar.

The Jim Bolger-trained filly seems a gradual improver and a mark of 85 might slightly underestimate her, though she will clearly need to maintain her progression. She was really strongly supported at Fairyhouse when winning a maiden at the third attempt and she scored convincingly, even if the form is nothing out of the ordinary.

Bolger has won two of the last eight renewals of this six-furlong handicap. Interestingly, Al Mohalhal, last year's victor, also runs in the colours of Mubarak Al Naemi.

This is a fine card and the auction race has also attracted a huge field. Cloistered is a promising filly and it seems significant that Jessica Harrington pitches her in here before she won her maiden.

She was comfortably beaten by Noivado here in September but, with the benefit of experience and an extra furlong, she can realise revenge.

Cloister's sire, Clodovil, is included in the sponsorship of the Listed Garnet Stakes. The Dermot Weld-trained Rose De Pierre can make it four from four, while the admirable Toe The Line would be a popular winner of the Listed Anjaal EBF Bluebell Stakes.

Spirit Of Valor is nearly impossible to oppose in the opener after his excellent debut showing at the Curragh. Bett Loch is an each-way pick in the fillies' maiden for Godolphin.

At Cork, it will be fascinating to see how the enigmatic Tell Us More gets on now Gordon Elliott has a hold of a horse that probably frustrated former trainer Willie Mullins.

A horse of considerable ability, he has had issues with hanging and jumping to his left.

He has top weight in the feature handicap chase but preference is for Leap Dearg, which shaped quite nicely for a long way over hurdles at Listowel. He has the aid of Paul Townend.

It would be no surprise were Blood Crazed Tiger and Oathkeeper to dominate the novice hurdle. Oathkeeper fell in the race in which Leap Dearg was fourth, still very much in contention. Narrow preference is for the promising Gigginstown runner.

The novice chase is tough to solve. Vinnie Luck has more to do here after winning at Sligo but the trip should suit and this is not all that strong.

However, Bendanella is preferred under Townend, who has a 25pc strike-rate at Cork in the past five seasons and is a naturally gifted horseman.

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