Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 18 November 2017

Kuramathi looks well treated in Birdcatcher

Of the nine horses vying for the €45,000 winner's prize, Mint Chai, trained by Ger Lyons (pictured) and Sheila Lavery's Sevenleft offer the most established form lines
Of the nine horses vying for the €45,000 winner's prize, Mint Chai, trained by Ger Lyons (pictured) and Sheila Lavery's Sevenleft offer the most established form lines
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

An excellent card comprising the Birdcatcher Nursery and two Listed races brings the year's Flat proceedings at Naas to a close tomorrow.

Total prize money for the highly competitive eight-race spread comes in at €331,500. Of that, somewhat incongruously, the most valuable individual purse is a €75,000 two-year-olds' race that isn't the Birdcatcher.

The distinction falls to a seven-furlong conditions race for horses that were sold at public auction. Of the nine horses vying for the €45,000 winner's prize, Ger Lyons' Mint Chai and Sheila Lavery's Sevenleft offer the most established form lines.

However, fancied to take a bit of beating is John McConnell's Play The Game. A Lawman colt that won on its Leopardstown debut in June, Play The Game was then second in Listed company before stepping into Group class.

In a Curragh Group Two last month, he ran all the way to the line when beaten less than two lengths by Port Douglas. That was another really solid effort, and Beacon Rock, which finished third, was subsequently just denied in a Newmarket Group Two.

If Play The Game runs to a similar level under Shane Foley now, he is the one to beat. In the Birdcatcher, Reckless Endeavour is another with a live chance for Lyons, while Aidan O'Brien's top-weight Lieutenant General could also figure prominently, with the trainer's son Donnacha taking five pounds off his burden.

Of the 10 runners in what is the most prestigious event of its type, Andy Slattery's Kuramathi might prove the most favourably handicapped. A pound out of the handicap here for 8st 4lb, Wayne Lordan's mount made a winning debut at Tipperary on July 2.

The son of Paco Boy rallied gamely to thwart the more experienced Dr Doro, which went on to win a nursery off a mark of 79. That makes Kuramathi's effective mark of 83 look fair, a point that might well have prompted Slattery to put him away for a tilt at this €50,000 event.

There is every chance that his representative will have improved for his initial outing, so he could take plenty stopping in this competitive six-furlong contest.

In the Listed Bluebell Stakes, Charlie Appleby sends over Godolphin's improving Endless Time. The James Doyle-ridden Sea The Stars filly won for a fourth time in five starts at Newmarket two weeks ago, and is clearly on an upward curve.

Pat Fahy's Ballybacka Queen is dropping in grade after running respectably in a Longchamp Group Two, with John Kiely's stayer Toe The Line the highest rated of the 10 runners. Dermot Weld's Almela, another Sea The Stars three-year-old, is one of the least exposed on duty.

A facile Galway winner on her debut, she returned to Ballybrit last month, when she was narrowly denied by stablemate Zhukova over this 12-furlong trip. Ballybacka Queen was back in fifth on that occasion, and you would imagine that Almela has bundles of scope to progress even further on just her third start, so she is tipped to do so.

Kevin Prendergast's frustrating Tamadhor is given another chance to start fulfilling some of her promise in the Listed Garnet Stakes, while Willie Mullins's Noble Inn warrants keeping on side in the October Handicap.

Well-contested

This 12-furlong affair is every bit as well-contested as a €50,000 handicap should be, but Noble Inn fairly danced home on his Flat debut for Mullins at the Curragh last week. The handicapper hasn't missed him with a 13lb hike, but the suspicion is that he could justify that reaction for Billy Lee.

Mullins's Babbling Stream appeals as tomorrow's nap vote in the bumper at Cork. The four-year-old made a fine impression on its bumper bow for Pat Doyle in April, finding plenty en route to seeing off Kalopsia by a couple of lengths. Kalopsia has since won two bumpers, giving the form a distinctly solid hue.

The jumps card's most valuable affair is the €50,000 Kinsale Handicap Chase. Last year's Arthur Moore-trained winner Gentleman Duke is on duty again under Barry Geraghty, but preference this time is for Crown Theatre.

Henry de Bromhead's six-year-old is quite unexposed over fences, winning twice and finishing second once in his first five outings.

He bombed at Killarney in July, but was then given a break, and stayed on purposefully to be second to the in-form Phil The Flyer on his return over flights at Navan.

Granted, Crown Theatre isn't as well treated over fences, but Andrew Lynch's mount isn't done progressing just yet. Jonathan Burke could take the novices' chase on Gordon Elliott's dual Grade One-winning hurdler Guitar Pete, while Geraghty is likely to take the conditions hurdle aboard Dermot Weld's Grecian Tiger.

On the Flat at the Mallow venue today, Successor should build on its debut to take the seven-furlong maiden for Aidan and Joseph O'Brien. Earlier, Ado McGuinness's Bubbly Bellini gets the nod to retain the six-furlong handicap that he won last year.

He has plenty on under top-weight, but Killian Leonard's 10lb claim gives him a real life in first-time blinkers.

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