Sport Horse Racing

Friday 20 April 2018

Harty's 'Moon' fancied to eclipse Grimes rivals

Trainer Willie Mullins is responsible for the three highest-rated runners in the Kevin McManus Grimes Hurdle. Photo: Sportsfile
Trainer Willie Mullins is responsible for the three highest-rated runners in the Kevin McManus Grimes Hurdle. Photo: Sportsfile
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Willie Mullins is responsible for the three highest-rated runners in the Kevin McManus Grimes Hurdle, a race that can be a useful pointer to the Guinness Galway Hurdle.

Today's €62,500 Tipperary Grade Three has attracted a field of 11, which is the largest that has gone to post since a dozen lined out in 2010.

That year, the 2009 Galway Hurdle victor and 2010 runner-up Bahrain Storm beat the 2006 hero Cuan Na Grai, while Rebel Fitz plundered both this and the Ballybrit feature in 2012.

Only time will tell how relevant this year's Grimes will be in relation to the Galway Hurdle, but there are certainly plenty of contenders.

Mullins's mud-loving Sempre Medici is the best horse in the race on figures, but Ruby Walsh has eschewed him in favour of the seemingly more progressive Ivan Grozny.

The facile Aintree winner could prove hard to beat under the perennial champion jockey, and you can never write off the stable's indomitable veteran Thousand Stars.

Second to stablemate Diakali in this 12 months ago, the grey has run only in Grade Ones or Twos over the past 10 months, and he is rarely disgraced.

The Tullow Tank is another quality horse dropping in grade on its debut for Alan Fleming. Last seen finishing second to Gilgamboa in a Grade One at Fairyhouse over a year ago, The Tullow Tank might be one to watch for the moment.

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Eddie Harty's Moon Over Germany is one of the less exposed contenders. Successful in just one of his eight career starts, the son of Germany was placed in two Graded races after scoring at Navan before Christmas.

While he didn't build on that at Punchestown, he has doubtless been freshened up since then. Granted, this won't be easy, but Davy Russell's mount has the potential to improve considerably and has nap appeal.

In the maiden hurdle that follows, Joseph O'Brien and Barry Geraghty ought to prove a formidable partnership with Exactoris, a dual bumper winner that really should have too much class for its rivals.

A three-mile handicap hurdle will bring proceedings to a close. Ostensibly, this looks open, but Leonard Whitmore's Brave Love looks a really decent option.

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A brother to the stable's former star Brave Right, Shane Shortall's partner was popular in the market when running the best race of its career to be third at Clonmel in May.

Brave Love is two pounds higher now, but he can still be competitive off that.

As ever, this is an intriguing mixed programme, with the Listed Excelebration Stakes taking centre stage on the Flat.


A case could be made for many of the 12 runners, including Mick Halford's Windsor Castle seventh Yulong Baobei and Michael O'Callaghan's Railway Stakes sixth, Mirdif.

Ambiguity never got into the race in the Windsor Castle, but Joseph O'Brien's Fastnet Rock colt is better than that. Successful at the Limerick Junction track on its April debut, he was then placed in good races behind Psychedelic Funk and Caravaggio, prior to his Ascot flop.

He has plenty boot, and, if first-time cheek-pieces help, he might be hard to beat under the trainer's brother, Donnacha.

The champion apprentice elect should also take the two-year-old maiden aboard Leo Minor for his father, Aidan. John Oxx's filly Sea Of Grace ran well on her Curragh debut, as did Leo Minor at Gowran Park.

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He just lost out to Justice Frederick a month ago, but he ought to be that little bit sharper for the experience.

At Fairyhouse tomorrow, Dermot Weld's exciting Raymonda is fancied to stretch her unbeaten record to three in the Brownstown Stakes.

David Wachman's disappointing Most Beautiful would be interesting in this Group Three if she returns to the level she performed at last year, while Ainippe and Queen Catrine bring high ratings to the table for Ger Lyons.

Nonetheless, Raymonda impressed when winning a modest enough contest here on her return last month, and she can build on that now for Pat Smullen. Over jumps at Sligo, the nap vote falls to Maurice Phelan's likeable Petuna in the mares' novices' hurdle.

Irish Independent

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