Wednesday 13 December 2017

'Late' can put Casey back in spotlight

Veteran handler Peter Casey. Photo: Frank McGrath
Veteran handler Peter Casey. Photo: Frank McGrath

Johnny Ward

Veteran trainer Peter Casey's performances when interviewed during the days of Flemenstar became the stuff of legend and he can strike with his first winner since January at Clonmel this evening.

While he could be deemed a little frustrating, Eight Till Late is one of the more reliable steeds in jumps combat and his time over fences seems nigh in the John Kennedy Motors (Toyota) Clonmel Beginners Steeplechase.

A ground-versatile sort, he jumps and travels cleanly, and his close second in handicap combat recently at Punchestown - a performance that saw him promoted to 112 in the ratings - looks good enough to win here.

This is far from a competitive maiden. Valgor Du Ronceray, trained by Joseph O'Brien, should make a chaser after graduating from pointing, and his recent third at Ballinrobe was a fair effort, though he hardly seems progressive.

The other maiden is stronger, with the Gordon Elliott-trained Everyday Everyhour seemingly the one to beat under Bryan Cooper.

Big fields in early June illustrate the health of Irish jumps racing. Statistical looks the one in the opener, since Cooper could have ridden the consistent Dawn In The Park, yet chose the Henry de Bromhead steed.

Another seasoned handler, Willie Austin, has lively prospects of a winner in Euro So Brave in the first handicap hurdle. Moderate on the level, he made a really bright start to handicapping when second at Punchestown, incurring a relatively minor 3lb rise.

Course victor War Of The Pennys is a notable runner in the Orchard Thieves Handicap Hurdle for Don Cashman. Given how sweetly he travelled at Tramore last weekend, that he finished out of the places was pretty disappointing but, if Eddie Keating can hold onto him a little longer, he has claims. Keating rarely rides, his last winner aboard this steed coming back in 2014.

The handicap chase is pretty ordinary - just the type of race that gives A Grey Matter prospects of a breakthrough triumph over fences. All in all, he has been deeply unreliable, winning just once over hurdles and not once managing to place otherwise.

His chase debut when fourth to Shaneshill at Thurles was much better than anything he achieved since, but he may be worth chancing.

Racing concludes with a mares' bumper and, like so often in these races, whatever Willie Mullins supplies is the default option. The legendary trainer is in New York today to watch his runners at Belmont, but he should be able to save a few minutes to watch Magical Miss make her debut.

Magical Miss is by Beat Hollow, which notably is the stallion of Wicklow Brave, one of Mullins' two runners Stateside tonight.

Irish Independent

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