Hughes to enhance his fine Kilbeggan ratio with Wonder
Dessie Hughes has two live contenders in the main event on tonight's swansong Kilbeggan card.
The curtain will come down on the popular Co Westmeath venue's racing year when proceedings draw to a close. Hughes, who is the track's leading trainer with 26 winners from 133 runners over the past five years and boasts a 24pc ratio there in 2014 courtesy of seven winners, is set to saddle Seefood and Golden Wonder in the €15,500 conditions hurdle.
Seefood might well be the more popular in the market, but Golden Wonder is interesting under Roger Loughran. Second in the Irish Grand National off a mark of 135, he was last seen over flights when breaking his maiden at Bellewstown last summer.
Since his gallant Fairyhouse turn, he has run just once, finishing sixth in the Galway Plate after proving one-paced from the last fence.
That was a perfectly respectable performance over a slightly inadequate trip, so the return to three miles off favourable terms is expected to see Golden Wonder return to winning ways now.
Apart from Seefood, the likes of Desertmore Stream, Clara McCloud and Draycott Place are among those in the seven-strong heat that could figure strongly. However, they all have to concede weight to the selection, and that might not prove too easy.
Willie Mullins is the track's second most successful handler, and the champion trainer sends only Alileo into battle tonight. The maiden hurdle that Paul Townend's mount tackles is certainly winnable, but Alileo has been far from convincing in any of his six outings over the past year for the revered Closutton stable.
A better option may be Cormac Farrell's Captain Carleton, which will be ridden by Barry Geraghty for a first time. Second in his three hurdle starts, the five-year-old has run into a superior horse each time, latterly thwarted by Landau at Downpatrick.
He is a solid sort that should be up to taking this pretty moderate-looking affair. In the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap hurdle, Noel Meade's Six Stone Ned has plenty appeal under the excellent young claimer Johnny Burke.
Rated a stone lower over flights than he is over fences, Six Stone Ned ran nicely on his return from a short break when fourth to Cassells Rock at Bellewstown last week. If he comes on a little for that now, he ought to go close, and Burke's two-pound claim is an added bonus.
With Paul Carberry and Davy Condon sidelined, Denis O'Regan's decision to fly in for the ride on Meade's Silver Tassie in the beginners' chase is significant. However, the Henry De Bromhead-trained Tisamystery has the benefit of chasing experience, so he is preferred in that under Brian Hayes, who is also standing in for the injured Andrew Lynch.
The day's nap vote goes to Richie Rath's Real Man Of War in the bumper. When last seen finishing third at Punchestown in June, Real Man Of War was beaten by Totally Dominant and Lucky Pat, between them the winners of three bumpers and a maiden hurdle. In the context of today's race, that is really decent form.