Saturday 24 February 2018

Invincible ash to rise from the phoenix

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Of the four Group races at the Curragh tomorrow, the Patrick P O'Leary Memorial Phoenix Sprint looks the most appealing from a betting perspective.

A field of 10, including the usual gathering of familiar sprinters, is set to go to post for the six-furlong contest, with the wily Mark Prescott travelling Prescription from England.

That one ran with promise when third to the three-year-old Bewitching, which also lines out here, at Naas recently. Slowly away then, the daughter of Pivotal will appreciate any rain that falls, and that Prescott has seen fit to return is of note.

Snaeffell, winner of this Group Three in 2008, is another that may prefer a bit more give underfoot. Mick Halford's six-year-old is one of a number of the home team that consistently holds its own, and he is sure to give his followers a run for their money.

However, it is Halford's other runner, Invincible Ash, that warrants closest inspection. Having made little impact at this level earlier in the year, the Invincible Spirit mare improved to take second in a conditions event at Cork in June.

She then hit the headlines with a resounding five-length triumph in the inaugural National Lottery Sweepstakes Handicap over tomorrow's course and distance, easily holding the smart subsequent winners Hawkeyethenoo and Toufan Express in the process.

Four days later, Gary Carroll's mount was equally impressive at Leopardstown, and she confirmed her progress by winning a Listed race at Tipperary yesterday. Granted, Invincible Ash will need to be as good as she has looked to account for some proven speedsters now that she returns to Group company.

Nonetheless, she could trade at around 5/1, and is value at that if the rain stays away.

Further north at Downpatrick, Gordon Elliot's newcomer Lady Rinawa is sure to be popular under Paul Carberry in the mares' maiden hurdle.

A point-to-point winner last time, Lady Rinawa hasn't run on ground as fast as she will get in the north before, so is opposed with Ardnavalley.

That one was a good second on quick going at Roscommon, before failing to stay two miles and six furlongs last time. The return to two and a quarter now ought to suit.

Irish Independent

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