Thursday 14 December 2017

Halford on glory trail

Damien McElroy

Michael Halford's stable star Casamento is likely to be supplemented on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed for Doncaster's Racing Post Trophy on Saturday week, when the Shamardal colt may be joined by fellow Kildare-based challenger Dunboyne Express.

Runner-up to Pathfork for The Curragh's Group One National Stakes, Casamento returned to headquarters for his third career outing and justified favouritism convincingly in the Group Two Beresford Stakes to give the locally born handler his biggest success to date.

"He's been in great form since and seems to have even progressed from there," Halford explained. "His work has been good and, if all checks out well next weekend, we'll supplement him for the Racing Post Trophy, although I don't know yet who will be riding."

Meanwhile, the Kildangan trainer introduces another Sheikh Mohammed-owned juvenile, Mullingar, in The Curragh's TRI Equestrian Maiden with champion Johnny Murtagh aboard as the curtain comes down for the season there with the bonus of free admission.

Described by Halford (pictured above) as a late-maturing son of Dubawi which is only ready now to make his debut, Mullingar may still have what it takes to open his account against Kevin Prendergast's Dubawi filly Handassa, which is likewise having her first taste of racecourse action.

This eight-runner opening leg of the Jackpot is, however, an exception for this fixture as no fewer than 162 horses have been declared for the eight-race programme, with 24 of them lining up for the preceding TRM Excellence Nursery.

Perhaps the solution to this ultra-competitive affair is to side with Tyrone-based Andy Oliver's In Good Voice, which has some decent placed runs to his credit and could manage to initiate a double for the championship pace-setter Pat Smullen, who can also land the TRI Equestrian Maiden for fillies aboard Phrase.

The opening juvenile fillies maiden could devolve into a match between Prendergast's Rose Bonheur and the Aidan O'Brien-trained Diamond Brooch, which each lost out by a whisker on their most recent starts here and at Navan, with the former made the nap selection.

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