Deor can double up by making Kiely's long Roscommon trek pay off
John Kiely might have entered his 80th year last week but he remains as enthusiastic about turning out winners as ever.
The wily Dungarvan, Co Waterford-based handler sent Deor east across the country boundary on Saturday to record an emphatic Wexford triumph under Nina Carberry.
This evening, Deor will make a 500km-round trip north-west to Roscommon to do it all again in a near 12-furlong handicap. It is a very different assignment to that which he undertook at Wexford.
The peerless Carberry did the steering in an amateur riders' conditions race there, and Deor was the top-rated on duty. He duly confirmed that status with a 10-length rout. Here, Deor contests a handicap for a ninth time, having never managed to win one before.
A five-pound penalty gets him in off a career-high mark of 76, but Kiely has moved to negate that by booking the useful five-pound claimer, Tom Madden.
While it is a competitive 16-runner affair, Deor is fancied to double up. He didn't have a hard race in winning on Saturday and has clearly hit form, so he's worth keeping on side.
Gary Halpin is another five-pound-claiming apprentice tipped to get among the winners on True Companion in the 10-furlong handicap. Adrian Joyce's three-year-old finished with a flourish to be second on unsuitably heavy ground at Sligo on its reappearance. That was over seven furlongs and he has never run over further than a mile.
However, as an unexposed three-year-old, he has plenty appeal off just a two-pound higher rating here. There is any amount of dangers, but maybe Zig Zag could pose the most potent threat. Aidan O'Brien's handicappers have been in fine form recently, and this Zoffany gelding remains capable of better.
Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen could take the opening maiden with the well-bred Alishan, a Rock Of Gibraltar brother to the dual Group One-winning Alandi.
Smullen might also go close aboard Peter Fahey's Queen Alphabet in the mares' maiden. This is a tricky seven-runner race, with Yvonne Dunleavy's French import Nazmia among a few that aren't easy to assess.
Jim Bolger's So Focussed, Andy Oliver's Grey Sky Blue and Aidan Howard's bumper winner Not A Whisper are others that have shown definite ability.
Still, a chance is taken on Queen Alphabet. The seven-year-old has won a bumper and three hurdles, and she showed plenty when second in each of her three Flat starts, getting placed at Gowran Park last year and twice at Dundalk last month.
If she steps forward a little again here, she might be the one to beat.
The latter part of the card is devoted to the National Hunt ranks. Gordon Elliott and Jamie Codd combine for Gigginstown Stud's Blood Crazed Tiger in the bumper, and the King's Theatre gelding is fancied to justify nap billing for the Michael O'Leary brigade. Twice second at Naas during the winter, he is dropping in class now.
In the beginners' chase, Inch Rise gets the nod to make a successful switch from hurdles for Liam Burke and Robbie Power. A facile Cork winner at the end of March, he is a dour sort that looks made for this job.