Monday 22 January 2018

Cillian's set to return stronger for Berry

Jockey Fran Berry after competing in the Dublin Coach To The Curragh Races European Breeders Fund Maiden on Heard A Whisper
Jockey Fran Berry after competing in the Dublin Coach To The Curragh Races European Breeders Fund Maiden on Heard A Whisper
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Cillian's return can build on his commendable recent second at Ballinrobe when he encounters more suitable ground conditions at the Co Mayo venue tonight.

A bumper and hurdle winner in soft ground last year, Tony Martin's six-year-old has gone close in both of his starts on the flat in 2015.

In deep going at Gowran Park in May, he nearly foiled Sr Cartage over a grossly inadequate mile, just denied by a nose in the end.

He then returned to a more suitable trip of a mile and five furlongs here last month, when a drier surface saw him get outpaced on the tight track.

A big, long-striding horse that found things happening too quickly, Cillian's Return still kept finding for Fran Berry, running all the way to the line when he straightened up off the final bend.

Theos Well, which hacked up over flights at Cork last week, had got first run, but there was plenty merit in the runner-up's performance.

In this evening's maiden over the same distance, Cillian's Return will race on ground that is bordering on heavy. That will make life more straightforward for him, so he is fancied as nap material to get off the mark on the level.

The classy chaser Foildubh has his first Flat start in the same race, but the most interesting rival is arguably John Oxx's Sir Isaac.

A four-year-old Sea The Stars brother to the 2008 Dewhurst winner Intense Focus that cost £152,250, Sir Isaac showed a modicum of ability on his sole outing at Navan in the autumn. He might yet prove much better than that for a stable that is in-form.

Proceedings get underway with an extended nine-furlong claimer. Of the six runners in what is a modest contest, the top-weighted Specific Gravity might be capable of conceding poundage all round.

Ado McGuinness' seven-year-old last won for Henry Cecil in 2012, and both of his career triumphs came when there was ease underfoot.

His best effort for McGuinness over flights came when second at Cork in November on heavy, while there was plenty to take from his reappearance turn at Killarney on Tuesday, when he kept on from behind to be fourth.

In the autumn at Leopardstown, Specific Gravity was beaten just a couple of lengths off a mark of 95, form that suggests he can emerge on top under Declan McDonogh now.

A first-time visor could help Kevin Prendergast's frustrating Aared prevail in a poor maiden over the same trip. Martin's Lady Makfi showed ability on her Roscommon debut, while the David Wachman-trained Swordfight has failed to live up to expectations in eight starts to date.

The same is true of Aared, but this is surely the worst race that he has contested.

In his previous seven outings, he has run into some useful sorts such as Success Days, Bantry Bay and Sandro Botticelli, and he was a couple of lengths behind Oxx's subsequent Killarney winner Aimhirgin Lass at the Curragh last time.

There doesn't appear to be anything of such quality here, so Aared should get off the mark for Chris Hayes.

Pat Martin might continue his fine run with Takeachanceonme in the handicap. Shane Foley's mount needs to improve but he has previous in the mud, having run his two best races to be placed on heavy at Gowran Park and Listowel.

When third at Gowran, she was just half a length behind Cillian's Return, and the handicapper has given her a chance here by dropping her another two pounds.

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