Sport Horse Racing

Thursday 22 February 2018

Byrnes leads Cheltenham raid

Trainer Charles Byrnes. Picture: Brian Lawless / Sportsfile
Trainer Charles Byrnes. Picture: Brian Lawless / Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

A dozen Irish horses target Cheltenham today, with the wily Charles Byrnes sending over Black Warrior and Crystal Pearl.

Byrnes, three of whose runners pulled off a sensational gamble at Roscommon in August, has booked regular ally Davy Russell to ride Black Warrior in the opener. Though this is a tough race, the top weight is improving. He may have enough in the locker to get the Irish off to a favourable start.

Crystal Pearl, meanwhile, did not have much luck this season but she gained an overdue win at Limerick recently. She probably deserves what looks like a stiff mark now switched to Britain and it is possible that Chepstow winner Wishfull Dreaming may have her measure under Ciaran Gethings.

The Irish boast a strong hand in the two-mile novice chase, the depth of which is illustrated by Ridestan being put in at 7/1 in the betting despite having a pretty lofty mark of 143. They meet what looks a natural chaser in Marracudja, which bolted up at Newton Abbot and can likely make all under Nick Schofield.

The other novice chase is a cracking contest. Tiger Roll was put in a short enough price yesterday, but he has had a really busy time of it and is no good thing despite having this in the bag strictly on ratings. Full Cry looks a danger now back on nice ground.


Brian McMahon is a small trainer in Co Sligo and it would be heartwarming to see him have a winner at this famous racetrack in the form of Powersbomb, which is not without a chance in the handicap hurdle.

Jack Kennedy, who returned to riding at Thurles yesterday after a spell off having failed a concussion test, was taken to hospital for X-rays on his leg after complaining of soreness after a tumble early on the card.

Identity Thief is to make his debut over fences at Punchestown in a maiden chase tomorrow. The high-class hurdler will not have regular ally Bryan Cooper available to ride, though Henry de Bromhead will not be short of keen replacements. Identity Thief is a best-priced 20/1 to win the Racing Post Arkle at Cheltenham next March.

Meanwhile, the gamble on Yucatan painted a picture that yesterday's declarations for tomorrow's Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster corroborated. Initially 5/1, bookmakers now quote the regally-bred colt at even money.

Yucatan has improved dramatically and his three-quarter-length second to Capri at the Curragh illustrated that he has an outside chance of winning a Classic next year. He faces nine rivals.

Irish Independent

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