Fogarty and Barney can leave Thurles punters smiling
Ger Lynch last enjoyed a winner back in September 2013 but the Co Galway stable may have cause for celebration at Thurles today with Rock On Barney taken to score in the hands of Mikey Fogarty.
The son of Fracas has done next to nothing off-putting in his last few starts - three seconds in succession seeing him creep up the handicap. His hurdling experience is an asset which Fogarty should ensure he can take advantage of at the main expense of The Church Gate, which reverts from chasing.
Neither Willie Mullins nor Ruby Walsh is represented on a quiet day, with Ruby restricting his rides between now and Cheltenham on Tuesday. Gavin Cromwell is double-handed in the staying handicap hurdle, in which Raz De Maree is clearly well-in after finishing second in the Welsh National.
However, chasers reverting to hurdling rarely show the same level of form and preference is for Michael Hourigan's Hollow Tree, coming to hand for his new connections.
Rachael Blackmore was back among the winners on Sunday and gets on well with the tearaway Zipporah, which is a hopeful pick in a pretty ordinary opening mares' maiden chase over two and quarter miles.
The rated chase, which is effectively a handicap, is an interesting contest. Zekarya might be worth chancing here on his first start for Joseph O'Brien. Well-regarded in points and having boasted useful enough hurdles form, he won a chase by 17 lengths in 2013 for Pat Doyle, though things went a little awry afterwards.
The mare, White Lilac, ran a blinder last time and has found an ordinary maiden hurdle considering she is taking on the boys under David Mullins, who is expected to have some nice rides at Cheltenham.
Freeway Space is given one more chance in the staying maiden hurdle. Cheekpieces go on Paul Townend's mount for the first time, but it must be said her winless record is a source of frustration at this stage.
The bumper looks a decent contest. Judgement Day was put in second-favourite in the betting last night behind Isodon, another Gigginstown runner.
Gordon Elliott's charge was remarkably well-backed considering the task at hand when facing leading Cheltenham Bumper fancy Carter Mckay at Naas and he was certainly not disgraced, albeit flattered by the losing margin of just over two lengths.
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