Wednesday 24 January 2018

Rainforest has magic formula for handicap debut success

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

The weekend set will begin to filter in at Galway tonight as the Ballybrit programme switches back to an evening slot following two excellent sessions of daytime activity.

Inevitably, the quality of racing begins to taper off a little at this stage, but each of the four scheduled handicaps is as competitive as anything that has been staged so far. In particular, the featured Guinness Handicap looks a minefield for punters.

Run over 12 furlongs, the €36,000 prize numbers representatives from practically all the major Flat yards, as well as one or two less recognisable names. John Bleahen, who is based nearby in Ballinasloe and is better known as the man who produced the champion chaser Sizing Europe, saddles Galileo's Daughter.

Successful in a Down Royal maiden a week ago today, the well-bred filly is one of just two horses that Bleahen has ever saddled on the Flat. The other is Fleur De Nuit, which tackles the concluding conditions event.

That one ran away with a Ballinrobe maiden in impressive fashion last month. Needless to say, tonight's races will represent far more thorough examinations of both horses' capabilities. Still, Bleahen's record commands respect.

This evening's exchanges also mark an increased delegation of repeat performers. In all, eight horses that have already been in action at the Festival have been declared.

One of those, the Dermot Weld-trained Rainforest Magic, was a facile winner on the Flat on Tuesday. Another, Tajweed, was just run out of it over hurdles on Monday.

Both horses switch codes now, while Blue Eyed Bandit has his third attempt of the week at a Flat maiden. Having struggled over seven and eight furlongs, maybe the step up to 12 will bring about some much-needed improvement in him.

5.10 Guinness Qualified Riders' Handicap Hurdle

Rainforest Magic is the one that catches the eye. An easy winner here on Tuesday, Dermot Weld's gelding is making his handicap debut, and he is clearly in good heart.

On its second start for Willie Mullins, Rockyaboya should also figure. At Cork three weeks ago, he finished a fair second, though he has been put up nine pounds for that.

Good Decision has been in decent form over fences, and reverts to flights here for a first time since winning at Naas a year ago. Ephorus, fifth to Rainforest Magic on Tuesday, doesn't appear well treated at the weights.

Verdict -- Rainforest Magic could be a potent proposition

5.40 Guinness EBF Auction Maiden

Kingdomforthebride has been the busiest of these, and ran its best race when second in a Curragh nursery last time. Fourth in both of his starts, Makalali is also improving.

Catamount has the standout form. Second on her two outings, her latest effort over this seven-furlong trip at Roscommon came in a decent maiden.

Verdict -- Catamount will take plenty beating.

6.15 Guinness Galway Blazers Handicap Chase

Wins Now bids for a second victory in a row in this off a two-pound lower mark. He has taken time to find his form, but it was a very similar story last year, and his latest run at Killarney was his best this term.

Serve Time tackles his first handicap over fences. A gambled-on winner at Limerick, his rating compares very favourably with his peak hurdle mark.

Of the three others to have obliged last time, Hot Friend may be the one to keep on side. He looked progressive at Killarney, and gets in off just 10st now.

Verdict -- Wins Now never runs a bad race here.

6.50 Guinness Premier Handicap

Last year's Curragh maiden winner Cnocandancer benefited from a drop in class when taking second behind Flowers Of Spring at Cork on her seasonal debut. She is nine pounds better off with that one now for a two-and-a-half-length beating.

Subsequently placed in a valuable handicap at The Curragh before winning again at Fairyhouse, Flowers Of Spring may have it to do under a big weight. Celendine, a few places behind Flowers Of Spring at The Curragh, is another to consider.

The hurdler Jumbo Rio has rarely run a bad race on the Flat, while Galileo's Daughter is also interesting. A likeable filly, she won nicely at Down Royal last week.

Verdict -- Cnocandancer looks poised to score.

7.25 Budweiser Index EBF Maiden

Sam Bass is having its sixth start, but it isn't out of the question that he could still win a race like this. That said, his latest outing at The Curragh left a little to be desired.

Monte Carlo was beaten a long way on his only previous run at Dundalk in November, but his connections wouldn't persevere for the sake of it.

Harangue raced prominently before fading on its Curragh debut recently. He will strip fitter now.

Verdict -- Harangue could be the one in an ordinary maiden.

8.00 Arthur Guinness Handicap

Good Shot Noreen makes a quick reappearance after staying on to get up over seven furlongs on Monday. He may appreciate the mile trip now but, from a wide draw and under a heavy burden that includes a five-pound penalty, this will be tough.

Night Singer, which accounted for Fairylike at Gowran Park, is a couple of pounds worse off with that one now. Belleau and Hollymount King are two others that bring winning form here, while Leroy Parker is sporting blinkers on its handicap debut.

That one has shown some promise in three maidens.

Verdict -- Leroy Parker could be well treated on its first try over this trip.

8.30 Guinness Race

On official figures, Address Unknown is the pick here. With a mark of 102, the closest to him on ratings is The Bull Hayes off 93, yet he must concede just four pounds to that one.

Tajweed, second over hurdles on Monday and in excellent form for the past month, probably has it to do off an official rating of 63.

Fleur De Nuit is a fascinating runner.

A comfortable winner of a Ballinrobe bumper in May, she went on to sluice up in a Flat maiden over this trip at the same venue last month.

Verdict -- Fleur De Nuit is open to further progress.

Irish Independent

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