Wednesday 21 March 2018

Domination gives Byrnes grounds for optimism

Jockey Davy Russell can steer Domination to victory. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Jockey Davy Russell can steer Domination to victory. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Thomas Kelly

On day two of Killarney's July meeting, a Royal Ascot winner, runner-up and former Cheltenham Festival hero vie for centre stage on an interesting mixed programme.

Winner of the Ascot Stakes at the five-day extravaganza across the water, Domination now turns his hand back to the National Hunt game as he lines up in the closing Christy McSweeney Memorial Chase.

The Charles Byrnes-trained inmate has been a model of consistency and versatility over the past couple of seasons and followed up his Ascot success with a respectable third in a Listed contest at Sandown.

Already a winner of a Limerick novice event over the larger obstacles, Davy Russell's mount did record a poor run over fences at the same track but there was a legitimate excuse as it came on unfavourably heavy ground.

Both Jessica Harrington's Cailin Annamh and the Willie Mullins-trained Alelchi Inois are worthy opponents, but provided the rain stays away and the word 'good' remains in the going description, Domination's class should see him home.

Ted Veale is the former Cheltenham winner that lines up in the Bourn Vincent Memorial Handicap Chase, but his chances are not as obvious.

Partnered to a smooth success in the 2013 County Hurdle winner by Bryan Cooper, Tony Martin's charge has been a big disappointment since being switched to chasing – a sphere in which he is yet to record a victory.

His best run over fences came last November when third to the smart Dodging Bullets at Cheltenham, but he has failed to get anywhere near that since then and was tailed off on his last run at the Punchestown Festival.

While the fitting of a first-time hood might bring about an improvement from Ted Veale, a more solid each-way bet looks to be Boxer Beat.

A winner over course and distance last year, Paul Flynn's seven-year-old only has 9-13 to carry on his back and will appreciate the underfoot conditions.

On the level, Aidan O'Brien's El Salvador is the big attraction having run an admirable race when chasing home Pique Sous in Royal Ascot's finale, the Queen Alexandra Stakes.

The five-year-old has since run in a Group contest at the Curragh before winning at Bellewstown and should have too much firepower for the likes of Gambling Girl and Fire Fighter.

The Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden gets the action under way and Harrington's Elusive Laurence will be out to build on an encouraging debut at Roscommon. Blackstone and Intense Debate represent two powerhouse yards and the curiously named Weld Arab should also be respected, but preference goes to Elusive Laurence.

On the back of an impressive success at Leopardstown last Thursday, Rayna represents the John Oxx team in the Ross Golf Course Handicap and the progressive top weight gets the nap vote to defy her five-pound penalty.

Dermot Weld's winners' bandwagon shows no sign of stopping and Stay De Night should maintain the momentum in the Dermot O'Leary Memorial Rated Race.

The son of Shamardal created a favourable impression when making a winning debut at Limerick last month and Pat Smullen's mount is taken to justify favouritism at the main expense of Harley's Harley.

Irish Independent

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