Formbook points to Shamiran triumph
ON a remarkably busy Listowel spread that concludes the north Kerry venue's week-long Harvest Festival, Shamiran is fancied to justify the nap vote for Rodger Sweeney.
The popular Co Cork handler, who has saddled Salsify to two famous Foxhunters' Chase victories at Cheltenham, was successful in Thursday's feature with Fiery Oscar.
This afternoon, Shamiran boasts the single most distinguished piece of current form in the MT Carroll Arro Handicap Hurdle following his second to Call Me Bubbles at Galway.
A winner over hurdles and on the Flat in 2012, the eight-year-old had been operating some way below his best prior to Ballybrit, but bounced back with a cracking effort there under today's rider David Splaine, who shares the lead in the conditional jockeys' table with Jody McGarvey.
On that occasion, Splaine sent Shamiran on two-out and the partnership was only undone by Call Me Bubbles' desperately late swoop, with Fiery Oscar back in fifth.
Shamiran never had time to respond, so he lost nothing in defeat, though the quarter-of-a-mile drop back to two-and-a-half miles here will probably suit.
Splaine's mount is burdened with top-weight as a result of a 4lb hike in the ratings, but the efforts of his stablemate and Call Me Bubbles earlier in the week suggest that he could be good value for it.
With 18 runners, the €25,000 contest is well contested. John Supple's Roadtoabbeyfeale is one to note on his reappearance, as he was a winner here in 2012 and he relishes soft ground.
If any real quality is to emerge from the scheduled jump races, it may come in the Allman Contracts Ltd Beginners' Chase. Elegant Statesman and Run With The Wind are two with chances in this, but Willie Mullins' Gigginstown Stud-owned Raise Hell is the best prospect.
In winning a modest maiden hurdle at Thurles last February, the Presenting gelding hinted at his potential, but he is a big-framed horse that needed time to develop. Chances are that he will be more the finished article now, so he gets the nod to oblige under Davy Russell.
The dual champion jockey is on Colin Bowe's Whiskey And Red in the three-mile handicap chase, another brilliantly well contested 18-runner affair.
Francis Flood's Too Late To Sell could be one of the main contenders in this if he replicates the performance of his latest outing at Kilbeggan in June, but Emperor Concerto might provide the solution.
On its first start for Gordon Elliott since being purchased out of Lucy Wadham's Newmarket yard, Davy Condon's mount kept on well to be second behind Mount Sion at Down Royal in June. At 10 years of age, his scope for improvement is obviously limited.
Still, Emperor Concerto's display in the north suggested that Elliott could win with him and his ability to handle a cut in the ground will be to his advantage.
As ever, the amateur riders' Flat race that was won by Missunited 12 months ago is an intriguing finale, with Joxer, Rory O'Moore and Jennies Jewel among some smart hurdlers pitted against more race-fit rivals.
However, the standout option is Tony Martin's Benefficient.
One of last season's best novice chasers, the Cheltenham Festival victor could take plenty stopping under Stephen Clements.