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Goban Saor can give O'Grady welcome distraction

This afternoon's National Hunt card at Wexford is the only domestic action of the weekend ahead of next week's overload at Galway.

Edward O'Grady, who is responsible for the under-fire favourite The Real Article for the big hurdle race on Thursday, might have his mind momentarily taken off Monday's Turf Club referral if Goban Saor can secure division two of the Poolcourt Ltd Beginners' Chase. The seven-year-old is his sole runner at the south-eastern venue.

A maiden hurdle winner at Tramore in December, Andrew McNamara's mount was having his third chasing start when run out of it late on by Somatic over course and distance last month. That was as good a run as he has ever produced, and a similar effort should be sufficient today.

Vital Plot is the obvious danger to the nap selection. A horse that had shown little meaningful form of late, he was bang there before falling at the last fence on his second outing over fences at Tipperary last week.

In division one of the Beginners' Chase, Moi Desire is taken to defy a few more experienced rivals under Eddie O'Connell. Thepartysover and So Determined have both run a number of sound races over fences, but the debutante Moi Desire may prove to have a touch more class.

On her seasonal reappearance in a conditions hurdle at Kilbeggan, Eoin Griffin's charge accounted for some useful operators, including subsequent dual winner Brave Beauty, which finished second. If she reproduces that sort of form now that she switches to fences, she should be hard to beat.

O'Connell, the early leader in the conditional riders' championship, can double up on Onzo Mor in the St Patrick's Rock Handicap Chase. Chellah, second to Carrigmartin on his latest start at Naas in November, is interesting in this, but Onzo Mor is race-fit.

That might give him the edge. While Denis Cullen's gelding hasn't won for two years, he has been running to a reasonable standard over flights, and his chase rating is 9lbs more favourable than his hurdle mark.

Napa Starr is also likely to be a formidable opponent in the opening maiden hurdle. While Charles Byrnes' ex-Flat racer has his jumping difficulties, this is a mediocre contest, and his recent second at Cork is the best form on offer.

Irish Independent