Saturday 16 December 2017

Condon's French Quebec can rule roost in feature

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

The Listowel Harvest Festival continues today, with an array of reigning champions populating the mixed card at the Kerry venue.

Trainers Willie Mullins and Aidan O'Brien, the title-holders over jumps and on the Flat respectively, have a runner apiece, while the riding equivalents, Paul Townend and Pat Smullen, each take two mounts.

Bryan Cooper, Ben Curtis and Joseph O'Brien represent the younger generation of table-toppers on a card which last year threw up John Oxx's classy Doncaster winner Alanza in the opening maiden.

Lucky 15 quartet

Ken Condon can continue his excellent campaign by landing the nursery with his only runner of the day, French Quebec.

Third behind the subsequent Group One winner La Collina on its second start, French Quebec improved to beat Madhmoonah at Killarney, form that reads well following that one's Curragh success on Saturday.

Gala Dancer, so impressive on his last two starts for Paul Nolan, including on his chasing debut at Ballinrobe, is fancied to make it three in a row in what looks a cracking John F Maguire Novice Chase, while Shadow Eile should have the class to land the nap in the ITBA Fillies' Scheme Hurdle.

In today's bumper, Black Zorro could leave behind a poor turn at Punchestown in May to confirm the promise of his previous second to Waheeb at Limerick.

Outsider to note

Whiskey Hall can belie his forecast double-figure odds in the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle. Successful in soft ground at Clonmel off a mark of 83 a year ago, he made little impression in three subsequent outings off 90 and 89.

However, off a new mark of 88, and with Townend in the saddle, Whiskey Hall could run into a place.

The 'final' focus

Shadow Eile and Wrekin Rock might be applicable in terms of how Dublin handle 'The Gooch' while Deep Determination is exactly what the home side will require if they are to prevail.

Should Kerry fail, no doubt we'll hear all about The One That Got Away. Maybe the best option for football fans today in the novice chase would be St Devote, whose owners include Irish internationals Richard Dunne, Damie Duff, John O'Shea and Kevin Doyle. Eoin Griffin's charge is officially owned by the Dubs V's Culchies Syndicate.

Up on the first tee

Keeping on the broader sporting theme, golfing enthusiasts might be interested in Tom Taaffe's bumper debutant, Uponthe Hoof owned by Lee Westwood and his manager Chubby Chandler.

First-time blinkers

Secretary Of State is the only horse at today's fixture to sport headgear for the first time in the nursery.

Irish Independent

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