Hired Hand has experience to blow Roscommon rivals away
CHARLES O'BRIEN, who has enjoyed two valuable Pattern race triumphs at Leopardstown in recent weeks, is expected to secure a more modest prize at Roscommon tonight.
Hired Hand, the Kildare trainer's only runner on the seven-race mixed schedule, contests the concluding maiden hurdle. The JP McManus-owned five-year-old is having his first outing over jumps since finishing fourth at Down Royal last November, but his recent performances on the level have been encouraging.
As a result, Hired Hand won't want for fitness, and the experience of two previous jumping starts will stand to him. On the strength of a fifth-placed effort on his hurdling debut, Charles Byrnes' In A Nutshell is a live threat, as is Bessie Lou, which was a place behind the subsequent winner House Rules when third at Punchestown.
The Gerry Igoe Land Drainage Handicap Hurdle is the night's feature event, with a winner's pot of €10,523 up for grabs. Tony Martin saddles the top weight Redera and Uncle Taffy here, both of which are chasing three-timers.
Ruby Walsh has opted for Redera. That one carried just a 6lb penalty for his rout of a decent field of novices at Wexford on Friday night, so it's not hard to see why the former champion has chosen him. Still, Uncle Taffy could do no more than he has done in winning two handicaps at Cork and Ballinrobe late last month, and a 7lb hike for the latest of those doesn't seem especially harsh given the nature of his superiority. With 19lbs less to carry than Redera, Uncle Taffy could leave Walsh ruing his decision.
Of the remainder, One For Joules deserves plenty of respect. John 'Shark' Hanlon's four-year-old filly scored for a second time in succession at this venue yesterday, but this may come a bit soon for her.
In the Boylesports Hurdle, recent winners Blackwell Synergy, Fuschia Belle and Westmeath Bachelor are among a 10-strong field. Domination, beaten at odds-on in Sligo last time, might just have the trio's measure though now that the ground has eased a little.
On the Flat, Vastitas is a tentative selection in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies' Maiden having been beaten only by the useful Compelling at Limerick on Saturday, while Great Huzzar gets the nod in the equivalent event for colts and geldings. Tommy Stack's three-year-old ran well when sixth in a hot maiden at Cork in May.