Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Hat looks a good fit to atone for National

The Brian Meehan-trained Christchurch, under the guidance of Wexford native Jimmy Fortune, lands yesterday’s six-furlong maiden for juveniles at Newbury in the famous Sangster colours
The Brian Meehan-trained Christchurch, under the guidance of Wexford native Jimmy Fortune, lands yesterday’s six-furlong maiden for juveniles at Newbury in the famous Sangster colours
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Willie Mullins will today saddle Argentino and Childrens List in his quest to plunder Listowel's €30,000 MJ Carroll Arro Handicap Hurdle for a fourth time in five years.

As a Gigginstown Stud representative, the narrow Killarney winner Argentino will be partnered by Michael O'Leary's retained rider Bryan Cooper, with Ruby Walsh pencilled in for Childrens List. Of the two, Childrens List might prove the more dangerous.

The Presenting five-year-old has won two of its last three and impressed greatly when giving 11lbs and a comprehensive beating to the 118-rated Coldstonesober at Downpatrick.

Off a mark of 126 for 10st 12lb, he ought to be competitive at the very least, although he would probably prefer slightly drier conditions than he is likely to get.

Aidan O'Brien's top-weighted Plinth came up just short against Argentino at Killarney. The five-year-old's chance won't be done any harm by the booking of seven-pound claimer Anthony Fox, while John Kiely's hat-trick-seeking Master Appeal also has his lighter burden alleviated by the same amount due to Donagh Meyler's presence up top.

There is no doubt that the 14-runner event is suitably competitive, but Pass The Hat is still strongly fancied to exploit what is a favourable hurdle rating. Arthur Moore's oversized chestnut was a gallant second to Your Busy in last year's Kerry National.

Off a mark of 134, that was some effort, not least because three miles probably stretches the limit of his stamina. At his peak, the eight-year-old was fourth at Aintree in April off a mark of 143, and there was little wrong with his second to the talented Savello in a conditions race over an inadequate two miles at Ballinrobe back in late August.

Today, Pass The Hat gets in off 118 for just 10st 4lb under Robbie Colgan. Successful over flights off 116 in 2012, he was fourth to Erlkonig over further at Killarney off this mark in July, having endured a miserable passage from the home turn.

That was a deeply promising run that confirmed the suspicion that he has plenty to offer at this discipline, so he appeals as nap material to atone for last year's near-miss.

Later on, Rebel Fitz should emulate his 2014 triumph in the qualified riders' Flat race under Mikey O'Connor. Mick Winters' versatile star has won tidily on both of his previous outings on the level, and the former Galway Hurdle hero will strip a little fitter for his run over fences at Ballybrit early last month, when he was just run out of it by Cailin Annamh.

Tony Martin's Galway Hurdle third Ted Veale looks the main threat to Rebel Fitz, but Winters' redoubtable 10-year-old is hard to oppose.

Earlier, Martin's Blair Perrone is an interesting chasing debutant under Denis O'Regan. Third behind Mullins-trained star Douvan in a Punchestown Grade One, he has considerable potential, but this beginners' event might go the way of Sizing Codelco.

Henry De Bromhead's charge ran well in defeat against decent opposition over fences during the winter. He was of a similar rating to Blair Perrone over flights, so he warrants the nap vote here under Jonathan Burke due to his experience.

Mullins and Walsh might take the novices' hurdle with Escape Footwear, while Walsh is also trusted to deliver the nap aboard Uncle Danny on tomorrow's rescheduled card. John Queally's charge has promised plenty and the maiden hurdle that he contests on his seasonal bow looks well within his range of abilities.

Irish Independent

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