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Lightening can put students in mood to party

When it comes to student race days, few can match the success of the origin of the species in Limerick, a point illustrated by this evening's sold-out fixture at the Munster venue.

The city's Mary Immaculate College sold one ticket for each of its 2,500 students on campus, with the Institute of Technology understood to have over 3,000 bookings. Limerick's University College has 7,500 full-time undergraduates yet shifted no less than 6,000 tickets, while its Cork equivalent also received an allocation.

Needless to say, such promotions aren't to every prospective racegoer's taste, but it's only a once-a-year affair and today's attendance will be full of the converted. No other stand-alone domestic Flat meeting this year will be able to announce in advance that there will be no tickets available at the gate, so racecourse manager Russell Ferris deserves credit for encouraging an initiative that attracts up to 12,500 souls to a nondescript April meeting.

By coincidence or otherwise, Jim Bolger, Flat racing's own quasi ecclesiastical figurehead, has opted to give the meeting a swerve with his bang in-form team. Nonetheless, there is plenty for the revellers to get their teeth into on a competitive seven-race spread, with Kevin Prendergast's Silver Lightening napped to take the UL Racing Society's mile maiden.


The Verglas three-year-old made an encouraging bow at the Curragh recently, keeping on from the rear to draw a couple of lengths clear of the rest when second to Bolger's Alpinist, which had the benefit of a run last year. With that experience under his belt, the grey can prove too strong for some more exposed rivals under Chris Hayes.

Joseph and Aidan O'Brien could take the fillies' maiden with Hanky Panky, a daughter of Galileo that tired late on when fourth over a mile on soft ground in a decent Listed race behind Seolan at the Curragh in the autumn. The drop to seven furlongs could prove key now, while the Ballydoyle duo should also take the older horses' maiden with Marchese Marconi.

Benbecula is fancied for Tommy Carmody and Johnny Murtagh in the penultimate handicap, though the fledgling combination's facile Cork scorer Rich Coast has plenty on in the concluding conditions race. The O'Briens' hat-trick seeking El Salvador also has the benefit of race-fitness, but the Dermot Weld-trained Voleuse De Coeurs is weighted to win.

Likewise on the verge of a treble, the runaway Cesarewitch winner is upwards of 7lb clear on official figures, but is at least 5lb well in with each of her five opponents on her reappearance under Pat Smullen.

Irish Independent