Sunday 18 February 2018

Improving Fitz can land blow for Rebels

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

On a decent quality card at Tipperary tomorrow, Rebel Fitz appeals as nap material to continue his ascent up the ranks in the Grade Two hurdle.

When Mick Winters' charge prevailed in dramatic fashion in the Galway Hurdle, this was the race that the Kanturk-based handler nominated as the one in which to test his mettle.

Sure enough, a thorough examination looks guaranteed, as the eight-strong opposition is headed by the versatile three-time Grade One winner Thousand Stars.

Ruby Walsh, however, has eschewed the ride on the dual French Champion Hurdler for Willie Mullins' other runner, Blackstairmountain.

Successful on the Flat in August, Blackstairmountain was third in the Galway Plate, but he is a not the easiest horse to predict, so Walsh's decision to ride him over Thousand Stars is intriguing.

Kieran Purcell's progressive Lartigue Hurdle victor Burrenbridge Lodge is another with reasonable claims, while Captain Cee Bee, third behind Rebel Fitz at Galway off 5lb worse terms, is well capable of landing a blow at his best.

That all said, the manner in which Rebel Fitz has been progressing is impossible to ignore.

Despite Davy Russell's out of character brain fade in the shadow of the post at Ballybrit, he won the most valuable race in the country with a bit to spare.


And he confirmed his growing prowess with a facile triumph over Fosters Cross at Cork in the interim, form that was franked when that one followed up over fences next time.

If Rebel Fitz turns up in similar shape now, a fifth win on the spin could be a formality.

In the Grade Three Dolores Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle, the prolific Whatever Jacksays appeals as a similarly robust selection for Oliver McKiernan and Robbie Colgan, while Ballyadam Brook can turn the tables on his Listowel conqueror Pride Of The Artic in the well-contested Like A Butterfly Novices' Chase.

Jimmy Mangan's Fair Dilemma, twice successful at the Kerry festival, and Mullins' Sweet My Lord are to be respected, but the Terence O'Brien-trained Ballyadam Brook might have the race run to suit.

Happy coming from off the pace, he was always up against it when Pride Of The Artic got a very soft lead last time.

With Imperial Shabra in attendance, that won't happen here, so you can expect to see Ballyadam Brook lay down a serious challenge under Davy Condon.

In the card's featured Flat race, the Group Three Concorde Stakes, Yellow Rosebud is also fancied to finally get the better of Lady Wingshot at the third time of asking.

When the pair clashed here last time, just half a length separated them and Pat Smullen's mount reopposes off three-pound better terms now.

Irish Independent

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