Tuesday 24 April 2018

Golantilla can begin to build on old promise for Connell

Golantilla, here winning a Naas bumper under Robbie McNamara, needs to start showing the same sparkle over hurdles
Golantilla, here winning a Naas bumper under Robbie McNamara, needs to start showing the same sparkle over hurdles
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Leopardstown concludes its brief jumps season on a slightly lower-key note than usual today.

Traditionally, the programme that is being held at the Foxrock venue this afternoon would have been on tomorrow, with an intense emphasis on the post-racing gallops of a raft of Cheltenham Festival candidates.

As Ireland and England are due to clash in the Aviva Stadium tomorrow, officials at Leopardstown sensibly decided to bring their fixture forward.

They have also opted not to embark on the usual publicity foray for the schooling, and live pictures and commentary have also been abandoned on the basis that it will relieve the trainers involved of some unnecessary stress.

There is unlikely to be too many complaints, as the sessions, which also take place on Monday and Tuesday, had descended into something of a frivolous circus in recent years.

For all that there might have been the odd nugget to emerge, it was also an information overload, as evidenced by overemphasised falls for Rule Supreme and Ballycasey that would have never become public knowledge had they happened at home. Besides, there is plenty decent action on the card.

The conditions hurdle is arguably of most interest, with Jarlath Fahey's Jennies Jewel and Pat Fahy's Western Boy taking on Willie Mullins' eye-catching Felix Yonger, conqueror of the in-form Mallowney when last seen at Cork in December.

A less exposed and more appealing candidate now that he steps up in trip is Tony Martin's Golantilla. Acquired by Barry Connell for €375,000 after winning a Cork bumper, he hasn't had a clear run of things since his third in the 2013 Champion Bumper.

However, a win on his Thurles hurdles debut in November followed by a one-paced third in a Leopardstown Grade One at Christmas suggested that there might be fun to be had with him yet. Few would be more deserving of that as Carrickmines-based Connell.

He has endured an array of high-profile misadventures with the likes of Our Conor, Minsk, Old Kilcash, Mossey Joe and Mount Benbulben, while The Tullow Tank has tanked over fences and he sold on last year's Grand National hero Pineau De Re.

In an effort to reinvigorate the operation this term, Connell traded Danny Mullins for Adrian Heskin. Without any necessary correlation to that, gradually things are improving for him, with Martello Tower, Gwencily Berbas and Foxrock all progressing well.

The Hennessy second Foxrock might yet end up in the Gold Cup if Connell pays the £27,500 supplementary fee.

For today, though, it is largely about Golantilla and Cape City Boy, the John 'Shark' Hanlon-trained bumper horse that won in style in the north recently.

Like Golantilla, he will be ridden by a talented young Co Cork-born rider in Finny Maguire, son of the brilliant former jockey, Adrian.

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