Monday 18 December 2017

Saint Gervais can get punters off to the perfect start

Wayne Bailey

HOW much importance you should give to previous winning course form when assessing a horse's chance is open to debate, but it's certainly not a hindrance to have the letter 'C' listed next to your selection on the racecard.

And at places like Galway, it's good to know your horse has successfully found his way home in front before. Saint Gervais is the only one in the Topaz Novice Hurdle field (4.0) with winning form at Ballybrit; although it must be acknowledged that the race he won here was a bumper so it's probably stretching it a bit to call that piece of form significant.

Still, there are plenty of other reasons to back the John Kiely-trained gelding in the opener, not least of which was a very reasonable comeback run at Killarney mid-July following a break of 12 weeks.

He never truly threatened the winner Keep It Cool, but as an exercise in shaking off cobwebs in preparation for the Festival, it served its purpose well.

In April, he found success in a weak maiden at Clonmel but, significantly, he was able to follow up that win with another victory in a fairly useful handicap at Cork before he took a break.

The likes of Zuzka and He's Our Man are not ruled out with ease, but I've a strong feeling that there's more to come from the selection and he can get punters off to a good start today at 3/1.

Shortly after the Angelus bells have rung, Magical Dream is worth a punt in the European Breeders Fund Fillies Maiden (6.10).

A daughter of Galileo, this filly went in my notebook as one to watch following an interesting debut in a fillies' maiden at Naas.

Seamie Heffernan took the reins in what turned out to be a competitive affair won by outsider Viztoria, but a change of tactics by Joseph O'Brien today may help her cause.

At Naas, Heffernan kept her off the pace early on but he soon found himself off the bridle and had to make up ground.

In fairness, she made headway when asked and finished strongly and while I don't blame the jockey, perhaps a slightly more forceful ride by O'Brien might prove more effective today.


4.0 Saint Gervais

4.30 Devil's Elbow

5.0 Voleuse De Coeurs

5.35 Pintura

6.10 Magical Dream (nap)

6.40 Golden Shoe (e/w )

7.10 Hail

Irish Independent

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