Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Halford can see off Dundalk raiders with Ambassadorial

Michael Halford's Ambassadorial has a solid chance in Dundalk’s Listed Star Appeal Stakes tonight. Picture: Sportsfile
Michael Halford's Ambassadorial has a solid chance in Dundalk’s Listed Star Appeal Stakes tonight. Picture: Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

British raiders always augment the appeal of an Irish race and a couple of visitors in Dundalk's excellent Listed Star Appeal Stakes tonight are in with a shout.

It is no easy heat to weigh up. There's the solid 102-rated King Electric for Ger Lyons, which is blinkered for the first time. Might newcomers Ambassadorial and the William Haggas-trained Executive Force thus have to run to a three-figured mark to merely be competitive?

The other raider, Rebel De Lope, produced a striking effort at Sandown last time.

Preference for Ambassadorial, a course winner which has a touch of class, is tentative by default for the Michael Halford stable.

Irish racing is blessed to have Dundalk and it is a welcome distraction for punters seeking some respite from jumpers in the winter.

This is an intriguing card and the Halford-trained Reddot Express gets the nap vote in the penultimate event.

Rated previously as high as 76 subsequent to some pleasing maiden runs, including at Dundalk, it is disappointing that this one remains winless. However, his last two efforts, especially as he seemed to go a little too quick in attack on latest, were perfectly satisfactory.

Pat Flynn has had a manifestly modest campaign, with just four winners. His numbers are down hugely on what they were around the turn of the century. He is one of many trainers who are finding things tougher nowadays but Twistsandturns can score for the stable in the first division of the mile handicap.

One man not struggling is Aidan O'Brien but the same can not be said of Taj Mahal, a brother to Gleneagles whose reputation was big until he started to run publicly. As Betfair blogger Tony Keenan said earlier this year: "Taj Mahal is well-named. Runs about as fast as a landmark."

He may yet eat his words. The colt was especially laboured at Newmarket last time (visored) but that run was clearly all wrong. His maiden form behind Arcada and stablemates Yucatan and Capri make him thrown in off 86 in the nursery, at least in theory. Give him one more chance.

There is a touch of class about the opening European Breeders Fund-restricted dash. Elusive Beauty did not quite see out Naas' stiff six furlongs last month but she has an aversion to underwhelming performances and must go close back at the minimum distance from gate four now.

Without question the worst race of the night is the maiden claimer, though races of this type are nevertheless to be encouraged to a degree. The in-form Eddie Lynam stable can strike here with Matriarch, while Free Running has fair claims in the fillies' handicap for the excellent John Feane.

RTE's 'Nationwide' met trainer John Kiely this week. That the 79-year-old continues to ride out seems to astound everyone but himself. He is a credit to racing.

Kiely has few runners at Dundalk but Henry's Girl may snare the nightcap for the Dungarvan handler. This one's Curragh fourth recently reads well, as does the booking of champion-elect Pat Smullen.

Irish Independent

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