Friday 23 March 2018

Legend can conquer Kerry

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

PROGRESSIVE mare Blazing Tempo will today bid to become the fourth horse to win both the Galway Plate and the Kerry National in the same year.

Ruby Walsh takes the mount on Willie Mullins' inmate as she endeavours to emulate a feat last achieved by the Aidan O'Brien-trained Life Of A Lord in 1995.

If she is to provide Walsh with his fifth triumph in the €96,400 Guinness-sponsored feature, she will need to overcome last year's winner Alfa Beat, former two-time holder Ponmeoath, as well as the 2009 Galway Plate hero Ballyholland.

The Kerry venue also hosts its first ever Listed contest. Intriguingly, the highest-rated contender is Arthur Moore's Cheltenham victor What A Charm, which is currently back in the care of original handler John Oxx.

Hurdle race double

Just two hurdles races today, and they provide a pair of strongly fancied options. In the Ballygarry House Hotel Novice Hurdle, the top-rated Tavern Times is opposable with Bullock Harbour. Jessica Harrington's charge has fulfilled much of his promise recently, winning twice over flights as well as on the Flat. Original Option and Rattan are others to fear.

Duc De Savoie gets the nod in the MSD Animal Health Maiden Hurdle under Ruby Walsh.

Kerry National focus

Charles Byrnes no longer trains Alfa Beat, the horse he sent out to land last year's showpiece, but the Limerick handler is still fancied to record back-to-back victories in the three-miler with Bideford Legend. On just its sixth chasing start at Killarney in May, the seven-year-old scored easily under today's rider Philip Enright.

The handicapper has put Bideford Legend up 17lbs, but Byrnes has restricted him to a pair of hurdling starts. Bideford Legend placed on both occasions, so he can shade the verdict here.

Outsider to note

Swift Counsel should run a big race at a decent price in the Seamus Mulvaney Handicap Chase. A winner in testing going at Thurles two years ago, John O'Callaghan's veteran has been badly handicapped since. However, he has been given some respite, dropping from a high of 132 to 123 and can be competitive again.

First-time blinkers

In the seven-furlong handicap, Anderiego tries headgear for a first time, as does Gift From The Sea in the Listed race.

Irish Independent

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