Saturday 24 February 2018

'Heat' and 'Fire' a warm order for Halford

Trainer Michael Halford. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Trainer Michael Halford. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Johnny Ward

Take Heat Of The Day to reward nap allegiance in the opening race at Dundalk tonight.

By Saturday, there will have been no jumps action since last Monday and punters must make do with a couple of all-weather offerings between now and then, starting tonight with a well-contested card.

Heat Of The Day comes off a 41-day break in the fillies' maiden. She has a decent draw in gate seven and, with so few in the opposition with claims of substance, she makes plenty of appeal.

Heat Of The Day was sent off just 7/2 on her debut in late September at Dundalk. Tardy out of the starting stalls, she had nearly the entire field ahead of her for most of the race, and it was encouraging that she passed around half of her rivals in the final couple of furlongs. Expect her to be much sharper now.

The danger would appear to be Kiss The Wind, trained by Ger Lyons. He and the selection's trainer, Michael Halford, are two of the most respected handlers at Dundalk.

Indeed, this pair may also dominate the colts and geldings' maiden, with tentative preference for the Lyons-trained Rock In Peace. Blinkered for the first time, this Kodiac-bred is drawn two and will be much happier back on the all-weather, Halford's Liberatio the danger.

The big race of the meet is the Crowne Plaza Leading Jockey & Trainer Championship Handicap and this looks a nice bit of placing by Halford, with Chestnut Fire and the hardy Hat Alnasar both taking their chance. Chesnut Fire has gone up a little in the weights for his recent course win but he has a good chance of doubling up in what appears to be a relatively weak renewal.

Bishan Bedi, which was fourth in this race 12 months ago, is 4lb higher in the weights now. Connor King takes the mount and is bidding to end a long spell without a winner.

The Handicap is divided into two and the first half appears to be deeper. Sixtyfiveroses has tested the patience of trainer Johnny Levins but this might be her night. She drops back to perhaps her best trip and stable rider Ronan Whelan takes over.

Stablemate Havelock Ellis has claims in the second division but he has a poor draw and probably wants farther.

He was behind New Direction here last time and the Jim Bolger-trained steed is taken to complete a hat-trick.

The nightcap, a modest contest, can go to Society Ranger. Though gate 13 is no help over this distance - the runners meet the first bend quickly - Oisin Orr may be able to settle the Bushranger-bred in midfield.

Quite a few look in with a chance in the seven-furlong handicap. Live Twice, which is a little unfortunate not to have scored so far, has the assistance of champion rider Pat Smullen and this trip seems suitable.

The mile handicap that follows is a competitive contest. Easy Boy, whose rider Wayne Lordan will team up with Ballydoyle from January onwards, is weighed to strike again. Trainer Pat Martin's Dundalk runners have been running well of late.

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