Dunboyne gamble grows
Trainers bidding for Classic glory at The Curragh this weekend will have to factor in an added ingredient to their plans with news that watering continued yesterday to maintain the ground at good to firm.
Connections of home challenger Dunboyne Express would certainly like the ground to soften, and so would the punters who backed him last night.
As result of sustained support, Paddy Power now make Kevin Prendergast's colt as short as 9/4 , while easing Dubawi Gold, second to Frankel in the 2,000 Guineas last month, to 7/4.
Officials at the Kildare track are keeping a close eye on the weather forecast, which suggests some rain is likely before the end of the week.
"We're having another dry day so we're watering just to maintain good to firm ground and keeping an eye on the forecast for the remainder of the week," track manager Paul Hensey stated.
"We'll call the watering situation as time goes by. Speaking to the Met Office this morning, they are saying we are going to get two to three millimetres of rain between now and Friday. But they are indicating there could be up to six to eight millimetres of rainfall come Saturday morning, so we will just have to watch that."
News of the watering will be welcomed by Tommy Stack, whose Lolly For Dolly bids for the TRI Equestrian Stakes on Saturday.
Stack's prolific four-year-old has already been successful twice at Group Three level this season and was narrowly denied a hat-trick by Irish 1,000 Guineas contender Emiyna.
Lolly For Dolly could book her ticket to Royal Ascot with another prominent showing this weekend.
Stack's son and assistant Fozzy said: "She'll take her chance and she seems well in herself. She's had a great year so far, winning two Group Threes and she did nothing wrong the last day.
"The winner is one of the leading fancies for the Irish 1,000 Guineas and we were giving her 15lb and only got beaten a short-head. If all goes to plan, she will go to Royal Ascot for the Windsor Forest Stakes."
Meanwhile, Sweeps Hill was made to pull out all the stops by Mr Nosie in order to justify 6/4 favouritism in the opening Motivate Challenge In Association With The Evening Herald Beginners Chase at Punchestown. John Kiely's classy yet quirky son of Montjeu hadn't raced since disappointing on his second chase start at Naas in October.
David Casey's mount defied the lengthy lay-off with a smooth round of jumping but the runner-up wouldn't give in and after a prolonged battle from three out, Sweeps Hill just got the better of the argument with a one-length triumph.
Owner JP McManus enjoyed a one-two in the Follow Punchestown Facebook Handicap Chase, with Eddie Harty's Carrigmartin leading home the Kiely-trained Wise Old Owl.
Jessica Harrington's Greenbelt Star (6/4) took the Dobbins Food Hall Maiden Hurdle at the first time of asking over timber.
Harrington then doubled up when Barry Geraghty guided Bullock Harbour to a two-and-a-half-length victory over Seader and Geraghty went on to complete a double of his own aboard the John Berry-trained 10/1 shot Whats On The Menu in the KSPCA Maiden Hurdle.