Sunday 22 April 2018

Felix can pass test to prove cream of the crop

Paul Townend is fancied to score on Felix Yonger
Paul Townend is fancied to score on Felix Yonger
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

WILLIE MULLINS' exciting novice Felix Yonger is the star attraction in the featured Greenmount Park Chase at Limerick today.

The €37,500 Grade Two was a race that the champion trainer also targeted with this year's Cheltenham Gold Cup runner Sir Des Champs back in 2011, and Felix Yonger had been expected to take up one of his higher-profile engagements at Leopardstown this week. However, the Dublin track's loss is certainly the Munster venue's gain.

Runner-up to Simonsig at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival, Felix Yonger has emerged as one of the most precocious young chasers around after missing all of last season.

On the seven-year-old's last two starts, he has seen off Defy Logic and Trifolium with a considerable amount of flair, so it will be a huge anti-climax if he doesn't stretch his unbeaten record over the bigger obstacles to four under Paul Townend now.

Granted, the ground will probably be as testing as he has encountered, but he had fair form over hurdles and in bumpers in deep going.

RIVALS

While stablemate The Paparrazi Kid and Shrapnel -- third and fourth behind Felix Yonger at Punchestown last time -- are probably the pick of his eight rivals, they have an awful lot of ground to make up.

Smashing is another really interesting Mullins runner in the O'Kelly Bros. Demolition & Environmental Contracts Hurdle, having conquered the 130-rated Speckled Wood with the minimum of fuss on its Irish debut at Fairyhouse last month.

He is a four-year-old that could well build on that now, but he looked as though he enjoyed the decent ground that prevailed at the Co Meath venue, so conditions might not suit here.

Preferred is Aidan O'Brien's Carriganog. Successful on its first two hurdle starts before finishing a commendable third to the smart Apache Stronghold in a Navan Grade Two, Alan Crowe's novice mount has the scope to build on that performance.

Crowe could secure a double in JP McManus' silks when he partners Lethal Weapon for Christy Roche in the Woodlands House Hotel Handicap Chase.

This isn't a great race, but the selection is a soft ground specialist that stands out in first-time blinkers.

On his first start over fences for a year at Navan recently, he jumped efficiently en route to being beaten just a couple of lengths in third.

If the headgear sharpens up Lethal Weapon a little, he could be hard to beat against some more exposed rivals.

Lead Kindly Light is the day's nap in the Guinness Mares' Handicap Hurdle. This is a competitive little contest, with recent winners Love On Top, Emily Gray and Clara McCloud among a number of the 13 runners that have been performing well.

Still, Sean Byrne's Beneficial mare gets in here off a rating of 106. That is all of 19lbs below her 125 chasing mark, which her recent second to Twinlight in a Cork Grade Two would suggest is fully deserved.

With the trip and ground to suit Lead Kindly Light, she is fancied to prove a formidable proposition under Andrew Leigh.

Irish Independent

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