Friday 23 February 2018

C'est Ca stamina can land prize for Mullins-Walsh axis

Damien McElroy

Further heavy rainfall is forecast by Met Eireann ahead of this afternoon's final session of the Easter Festival at Fairyhouse, which is forcing officials to call an inspection for 7.30 this morning.

The bad weather could compromise today's session and tomorrow's industry date added on at the Meath venue, where the Handicap Hurdle and the Tattersalls Ireland Handicap Chase take centre stage.

Between them, current title-holder Willie Mullins and former champion Noel Meade are responsible for no fewer than seven of the 13 declared runners for the €90,000 Ladbrokes promotion.

A year ago, Meade saddled Fisher Bridge to spring a 20/1 surprise in the hands of Niall Madden and you have to go back to Jessica Harrington's Macs Joy (7/2) in 2004 for the most recent winning favourite.

Those are statistics that warrant serious consideration for punters, who face a difficult enough task in choosing between today's four Mullins and three Meade horses, never mind the half-dozen others.

In the latter group, Martin Brassil's Leopardstown winner Moville has been raised 9lb to a mark of 133 along with the long-absent Realt Dubh and Tawaagg, which are the highest-weighted of the Meade/Mullins teams.

Mullins may indeed be better armed in this event by Tarkari, which defeated the re-opposing Jigalo and Colleoni at the Dublin track earlier this season, and C'est Ca, despite a first-flight exit at Cheltenham.

A fast finisher behind Puyol in Leopardstown's MCR Handicap Hurdle last January, C'est Ca is due a change of fortune and with Ruby Walsh aboard, this horse, whose stamina is proven, can take the prize.

The preceding Tattersalls Ireland Handicap Chase, commemorating the late Dan Moore, went to Perce Rock (Tony McCoy) 12 months ago and this enigmatic performer returns on behalf of the in-form Tommy Stack stable.

Dan's son Arthur is happy to rely on the durable Mansony in receipt of 11lb from Golden Silver to which he finished third as they chased home subsequent Cheltenham hero Big Zeb at Punchestown.

Unable to make an impact either behind Big Zeb in the Cotswolds, Golden Silver won't be inconvenienced by the underfoot conditions, though the suspicion remains that he's better on a left-hand track.

In the heel of the hunt, it might be more profitable to rely on Paul Stafford's local hope Blueberry Boy on these revised terms with Golden Silver from their Hilly Way Chase run at Cork last December.

The Bobbyjo Bar Festival Novice Hurdle, which is the opening leg of the Jackpot, should prove informative for the longer term with multiple scorer Rigour Back Bob asked to concede 3lb to the other six runners.

Edward O'Grady's improving gelding was possibly unlucky not to have overtaken the more experienced Footy Facts last time out in Cork and won't mind the emphasis on stamina here, along with Definitive Edge.

Oliver McKiernan's Whodoyouthink, which was a clever winner of a lesser Naas race under Kevin Coleman and comes here a fresh horse, is the selection as his finishing kick could edge out Rigour Back Bob once more.

Former Cheltenham winner Dun Doire, which couldn't manage to get in a blow at Baby Run back in the Cotswolds last month, should be much more effective in the Joseph O'Reilly Memorial Hunters Chase, getting weight from another veteran Hi Cloy and Gowran Park scorer Ballistraw.

Irish Independent

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