Tuesday 16 January 2018

Grange can justify AP McCoy's Listowel decision

Tony McCoy at Newbury racecourse (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Tony McCoy at Newbury racecourse (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

AP McCOY'S decision to extend his stay in Listowel for just one ride on Grange suggests plenty is expected of Eddie Harty's progressive six-year-old this afternoon.

In four outings before the turn of the year, JP McManus' charge won twice and was second twice in deep ground, finishing up with a game effort in defeat to the useful Flying Light at Leopardstown. He needs overcome a lay-off since Christmas in the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle now, but the suspicion is that he isn't finished improving yet.

Off a four-pound higher mark for just 10st 8lb, Grange warrants the day's nap vote under the peerless champion. The selection apart, this €40,000 feature is typically open with 15 runners, and Noel Meade's Maxim Gorky is another that could run a big race on its return.

As a Gigginstown House Stud representative, this outing could simply be a precursor to an imminent chasing campaign. However, each of Maxim Gorky's three career wins have come on testing going, and he remains largely unexposed over hurdles.

In the Kevin McManus Beginners' Chase, Owega Star gets the nod to break its duck over fences. A Grade Two winner in heavy ground over hurdles, Peter Fahey's six-year-old hasn't been disgraced in three tries over the bigger obstacles to date, latterly when splitting Shanpallas and Cause Of Causes at Killarney three weeks ago.

If he steps up on that again now, he is the one to beat under Andrew Leigh. Clonbanan Lad and Killcara Boy are the dangers, but mightn't have the same level of class.

In the Devon Hill Hotel Hurdle over three miles, Ruby Walsh and Tony Martin are definitely the team to beat with Victrix Gale.

Mullins' Balnaslow is one of a raft of the 17 others to consider here, but Victrix Gale showed her liking for three miles in soft ground with a smooth win at the Galway Festival. While she is 13lbs higher now, she has scope to defy the hike on just her 10th hurdle start.

Ballybrit scorer Wicklow Brave gets the nod in what is a very intriguing bumper, with Pat Flynn's Mamma Rosa one of the more appealing prospects on the Flat in the Speedy's Bars Handicap over a mile.

Danny Grant's mount, successful on its penultimate run at Tipperary, prevailed over course and distance in soft ground two years ago off a mark of 71. With that in mind, she ought to have a big say now off 67.

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