Wednesday 21 March 2018

Kid to roll on

Mullins charge can emulate legendary Pinch Hitter by defending crown in showpiece

Damien McElroy

Another splendidly varied programme for Galway patrons to fathom awaits at Ballybrit this evening when the official going description is expected to remain as good to yielding with the forecast for further showers overnight.

Two competitive jumps affairs precede five races on the Flat featuring the €120,000 Topaz Mile that, as ever, is a very competitive handicap with a maximum field of 18 plus three reserves headed by previous course heroine Miranda's Girl.

The only English challenger for the Topaz promotion now is Richard Fahey's Extraterrestrial as fellow Yorkshire handler Mark Johnston, who won two similar contests at The Curragh on Derby day, withdrew triple scorer Capponi.

Generally out of sorts this year, Louth native Fahey's six-year-old will be doing well to make the journey worthwhile tonight as the home defence is led by top weight Kargali, far from disgraced at Newbury behind Paco Boy, and last year's popular winner Rock And Roll Kid.

Although unfavourably drawn on the outside of the pack, the latter is still expected to make a bold bid for Tony and Danny Mullins to emulate Galway legend Pinch Hitter, which is the only horse to have recorded successive victories.

Pinch Hitter was on the mark for the emerging Noel Meade stable over this extended mile on the Flat in 1981 and 1982 before repeating those back-to-back triumphs when switching to jumping in the Guinness Handicap Hurdle.

Successful in the mud at The Curragh last April in the Group Three Gladness Stakes, Galway-born Luke Comer's Kargali, which he purchased from the Aga Khan, lends a definite touch of class to this evening's renewal and talented claimer Martin Harley's mount will be much more at home here than when pitched into Group One company at Newbury behind Paco Boy in the Lockinge Stakes.

This Invincible Spirit gelding's current rating of 108 means he has a welter burden to defy on this occasion in common with last year's hero Rock And Roll Kid, which likewise has a wide draw to overcome off his career-high mark of 104.

Maundy Money, which was Rock And Roll Kid's closest pursuer in last summer's version run on genuinely soft ground, tries for compensation now off the same rating as lone English raider Extraterrestrial, whose current form figures are even less inspiring.

A hefty 12lb penalty as a result of his return to winning ways at Killarney could anchor Michael Halford's If Per Chance, while this testing mile-plus might prove too much stamina-wise for both course winner Few Are Chosen and Mujaazef.

A high draw will be a bonus, though, for admirers of previous course and distance scorer Worldly Wise, and you cannot entirely rule out Atasari bouncing back to form with her mark having slipped 7lb since narrowly defeated by Bethrah at Leopardstown in May.

Verdict -- Stay with Rock And Roll Kid.

A decent spread of horses engaged here, which are likely to pay their way over obstacles this season, such as English import Drumfire, another interesting Flat winner Universal Truth and Dark Prospect, which has prospered on the all-weather in Dundalk.

Cruise On Bach and One Cool Tornado, which recently opened their accounts in bumpers at Roscommon and Sligo, are entitled to healthy respect, while Golan Guy has plenty of jumping experience to call on in contrast to Drumfire.

A Flat rating of 110 indicates how well Drumfire has fared on the level, however, and his good run at Leopardstown behind the odds-on Profound Beauty should have brought this hardy sort to concert pitch fitness-wise.

Verdict -- Drumfire to oblige.

James Lambe's veteran Natal just denied Tasman another course success in this event 12 months ago and they're back in action tonight as both Decoy Daddy and English challenger Invisible Man run here instead of in tomorrow's Plate.

Killenaule Boy and local hope Nintytwo Team, which successfully raided Fontwell last month, have to be respected too, but runaway Market Rasen winner Invisible Man might have too many guns for the home brigade unless the going turns soft.

Verdict -- Invisible Man has a handy weight.

Diego Garcia, which landed this prize in 2006, and My Valley, victorious in 2007 and 2008, will be out to roll back the years despite their generally uninspiring form figures from restricted suitable opportunities in the meantime.

In contrast, Ballydoyle inmate Don Leone, which belatedly got off the mark at Killarney, incurring a 6lb penalty in the process, and the well-exposed Siege Of Ennis, which returned to winning ways at The Curragh, should be among the prime fancies.

A chance is taken, though, with Slievecorragh, denied a run as the first reserve for last night's featured amateur handicap, as this versatile sort was in his element in the soft when running over hurdles during the spring.

Verdict -- Slievecorragh looks the value.

Recent winners College Scholar and Initiation as well as Miss Eze, Northern Rocked and He's Got Rhythm, all runners-up last time out, would look the ones to concentrate on for Jackpot purposes and a chance is taken with the last on that list.

Verdict -- He's Got Rhythm has a good draw.

Cases can be made at this modest level for Big Bad Billy Bob, Emily Jane and Purple Land, which have had their quota of chances already however, so it may be worth opposing them with the Dansili-sired debutante Parlour from her plum draw.

Verdict -- Parlour has a smart pedigree.

Irish Independent

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