Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 24 February 2018

Hourigan weighs up comeback tilt for Mossbank

Damien McElroy

Local trainer Michael Hourigan could saddle both the long-absent 2007 winner Mossbank and last month's Guinness Kerry National runner-up Dancing Tornado in Sunday's Munster National at Limerick, for which there were 22 initial acceptors yesterday.

Not seen since the 2008 Punchestown Festival, injury-prone Mossbank -- withdrawn on the day of the Listowel feature in which Dancing Tornado lost out to Alfa Beat -- is rated 10lb superior to his JP McManus-owned stablemate.

The Philip Hobbs-trained Fairoak Lad is the sole English-based contender for the Ladbrokes promotion, which was plundered by Dear Villez for the Paul Nicholls-Ruby Walsh partnership two years ago.

Eoin Griffin's The Last Derby, eighth in the Galway Plate, could get the decent surface he requires as the official advance going was described as yielding, good to yielding in places yesterday.

However, the ground was somewhat easier on The Curragh in advance of next Sunday's rival Flat meeting, with the round track yielding and the straight soft, and those conditions could tempt Aidan O'Brien to reintroduce last autumn's runaway Racing Post Trophy winner St Nicholas Abbey.

The Montjeu colt -- which has been on the sidelines since finishing a close sixth to Makfi on lively terrain in the English 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 1 -- stands out among the 22 possibles remaining in the mile and a half Go Racing In Kildare Finale Stakes.

Noel Meade's versatile Silverhand landed this Listed affair a year ago and could bid for a repeat victory, with Pat Flynn's redoubtable She's Our Mark, the Dermot Weld-trained Address Unknown and John Oxx's Roses For The Lady also included.

China Rock could be set for an intriguing clash with Sizing Europe in a conditions chase at Punchestown tomorrow week. The former made a winning seasonal reappearance in the Gowran Park Champion Chase on Saturday, delighting his trainer Mouse Morris.

The Tipperary handler is now looking forward to stepping his charge back up in trip in a race that has also been mooted as a possible target for last season's Arkle Trophy hero Sizing Europe.

"He's come out of the race in good form and will probably go for the two-mile-seven (furlong) race on the second day of Punchestown next week," said Morris. "We want to step our horse back up in trip and it looks a good place to go."

Across the water, Gold Cup-winning jockey Andrew Thornton is looking forward to getting back in the saddle at Towcester today after a couple of months on the sidelines with injury. Thornton broke his arm in a fall back in August but he returns to action with three rides.

"I'm looking forward to getting back. I haven't missed an awful lot but it's nice to get busy again," said Thornton.

Meanwhile, St Nicholas Abbey's joint owner John Magnier enlivened the opening session of Tattersalls' premier yearling auction in Newmarket yesterday when seeing off several would-be purchasers to sign for a 1.2m guineas Galileo filly closely related to Jim Bolger's New Approach.

She is a third foal of the dam, all her previous progeny having won, while the second dam, Park Express, is the dam of Epsom Derby hero New Approach.

Irish Independent

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