Friday 23 February 2018

Keane counting on Machete to cut King's championship lead

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

COLIN KEANE, who has four meetings to overhaul Connor King's five-strong apprentices' championship lead before the Flat season ends, has a fine book of rides at Dundalk tonight.

Both riders have been revelations this season, but King has long held a decisive advantage in the title race.

While the 17-year-old Leaving Certificate student is booked for six decent rides at the Louth venue this evening, his year-older rival might just shade proceedings.

Keane has five mounts, with Machete Mark fancied as nap material in the seven-furlong handicap.

Ger Lyons' three-year-old won here over a mile in January, and subsequently ran well in decent handicaps on turf, getting placed in valuable races at Ascot and Leopardstown.

His progression has stalled somewhat lately, but this drop in class represents a decent opportunity for him to get back on track.

The other of Keane's book that gets the nod to collect is Denise 'Sneezy' Foster's Kalacan in the first division of the apprentices' handicap over a mile.

Kalacan has just a solitary triumph to his name from 53 tries, but his game second over this trip at Bellewstown suggested he is operating off the sort of mark that he could win off again.

He is two pounds higher now, but he is trusted to leave behind a less convincing turn over an inadequate seven furlongs at Gowran Park last time to go close in an open race.

King, who rides the top-weights in both those heats, might solidify his advantage over Keane on David Marnane's ultra-consistent Maal in the second division of the apprentices' handicap.

This looks the marginally better leg, but Marnane's 10-year-old has been a model of consistency of late, for all that he hasn't won for two years.

An admirable second in each of his last four starts, he might just have enough juice in his legs to see off his 13 rivals.

In the €40,000 Listed sprint, a pair of English raiders will line out against five smart locals, with Paul Deegan taking the brave step of saddling the pacy two-year-old Fast In The Winds against its elders.

Angels Will Fall, representing Charlie Hills and Wayne Lordan, might be the one to keep on side. The Acclamation four-year-old has been keeping good company, and he lost little in defeat when chinned by Balmont Mast at the Curragh last time out.

Irish Independent

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