Tuesday 12 December 2017

For Bill victory can bring house down for Sheahan

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Part of Listowel's enduring appeal as a festival is the variety that it offers.

The penultimate card of the week is another fine example, with renowned jumps handlers Arthur Moore, Charles Byrnes and Christy Roche all chasing a slice of the €40,000 prize fund available in the feature event, the nine-furlong Guinness Handicap.

Pat Smullen and Johnny Murtagh are in action early in the day as they continue what is shaping up to be a nailbiting conclusion to the Flat jockeys' championship and then there is the return of the ever-green winter stalwart For Bill.

Owned by Donie Sheahan, a former inter-county selector with Kerry, the Mick Winters-trained mare's presence in the Southampton Goodwill Chase is a sure sign that the thick of the jumps season is around the corner.

Sheahan is a Listowel native and a winner on home turf for the popular octogenarian would go down a bomb.

Jumping trio

Although there are only seven runners in the South West Bins Novice Hurdle, there isn't likely to be much to choose between Laganbank, Alderwood and Virgil Earp. Of those, Laganbank is fancied to come out on top.

Cairdin, successful in a good bumper at Ballybrit in July, will take plenty beating in the maiden hurdle, while Free World is opposable in the Southampton Goodwill Chase.

Arthur Moore's charge won well at Ballinrobe, but two and a half miles in testing going may not suit. For Bill is preferred under Paul Carberry.

Outsider to note

Chebona Bula looks a solid each-way option in the LM Carey & Company Handicap. Twice a winner in testing going over hurdles, Eoin Doyle's five-year-old won nicely on the level at Clonmel in May, but then ran no race at Roscommon. A third-place finish back over flights in the meantime at Gowran Park was more encouraging, and his Flat rating has also now dropped a pound. It's hard to see him not go close.

First-time blinkers

Blinkered winners have been a recurring theme all week. Today, just two horses sport headgear for a first time, namely Marcus Attilius in the second race and Eightybarackstreet in the novice hurdle.

Handicap good thing

Having run out a facile winner of a six-furlong handicap on Monday, Bonnie Acclamation is due to compete off a 16lb higher mark in future.

However, he gets into today's opener, again over six furlongs, with just a five-pound penalty. In theory, then, he still has up to nine pounds in hand here.

•Trainer Aidan O'Brien has revealed that he is likely to run So You Think in next month's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Irish Independent

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