Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 17 December 2017

Linehan can hit the groove on Forty Five

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

The burgeoning riding career of Fermoy-born Maurice Linehan is being sensibly managed by Jonjo O'Neill, so it's always worth paying special attention to what he rides for his fellow Cork native.

This term, Linehan has had one winner from just seven rides, all bar one of which were for O'Neill. At Stratford tomorrow, the Jackdaws Castle handler makes typically shrewd use of his seven-pound claimer on Forty Five in the novices' handicap chase.

While the runaway Market Rasen winner Airmen's Friend warrants obvious respect off just a seven-pound higher rating, this is not the strongest of contests.

On his best form, Forty Five ought to have a big say, and his last couple of outings have suggested that he is currently operating at a pretty solid level.

A ready winner off 109 for AP McCoy at Hereford last month on his first run since February, he followed that with a commendable third in a better race at Market Rasen.

Competing off a seven-pound higher mark there, he is up another four now, but that is simply a reflection of the fact that he looks far from being done with yet.

As a result, with Linehan taking off those valuable seven pounds now, he should again go close.

In the two-mile handicap chase, Nobunaga appeals for Venetia Williams and Aidan Coleman, another rider who cut his teeth on the Cork pony racing circuit that Linehan emerged from with such distinction.

Despite there being just five runners in this, it is a far more competitive heat, but Nobunaga has been given a fair chance by the handicapper.

A flat-track specialist that won here on his penultimate start, the seven-year-old is down six pounds from when he laboured home in second on heavy ground at Ffos Las last month.

Outsider to note

It is not unusual for an Irish trainer to saddle their first winner in England these days and Skerries-based Karl Thornton might be the next to do so tomorrow.

At the very least, Sum Laff has the potential to outrun likely double figure odds in the conditional jockeys' handicap chase at Southwell.

A novice hurdle winner during an otherwise unremarkable career with Charlie Mann, Sum Laff ran well for a long way before tiring into fourth on his first start for Thornton at Hereford three weeks ago.

That improved effort followed the handicapper's decision to drop him all of 17lbs from a high of 112, and was maybe also aided by the application of blinkers.

Thus, off a rating that is effectively five pounds lower still if you include his in-form rider Michael Nolan's three-pound claim, Sum Laff should go very close indeed.

Sunday Yankee

Southwell 2.40 -- Sum Laff

Stratford 2.50 -- Forty Five

Stratford 3.50 -- Nobunaga

Fairyhouse 4.05 -- Regal Power

Numbers game

5Years since Ken Condon saddled a Group winner prior to Marvada's triumph in the Brownstown Stakes at Naas in Wednesday.

42,500 The value in euro of the Listed Tipperary Stakes, the centrepiece of today's lost Limerick Junction meeting that has been rescheduled for Tuesday, July 24.

Something we

learned this week

The silly season is back in full swing. A year on from The Real Article fiasco, the inconsistency of Irish stewarding procedures again reared its ugly head at Roscommon.

On Tuesday, the stewards set what, in a functioning area of regulation, might be considered a dangerous precedent by accepting Paul Townend's admission that he faked four 'air shots' on Tony Martin's Mulleady -- which couldn't help but snatch third despite its rider's efforts -- simply because he had panicked after realising he had given the horse too much to do.

Eschewing options that might have included, say, finding Townend guilty of riding an injudicious race or preventing Mulleady from running on its merits, the panel convicted him of partaking in "conduct and behaviour prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of horseracing."

Townend got a three-day ban, and you can be damn sure he won't be appealing.

That sanction, for an intentional offence, wouldn't be nearly as curious if, on the same night, Paddy Flood hadn't got five days for supposedly costing Bean Chroi Bhriste third place by prematurely dropping his hands.

Whether Flood was guilty of any offence at all is questionable, as his horse tied up markedly from the last hurdle. At worst he might have deserved a caution for being overly sympathetic on a horse that was visibly labouring.

Instead, inexplicably, he was also stripped of his riding fee.

Of course, that verdict wouldn't be nearly as curious if, on the previous night, the stewards had inquired into Joseph O'Brien's ride on Beach Of Falesa with similar rigour.

Having smoothly taken up the running 100 yards out, O'Brien pushed out Beach Of Falesa with his hands and heels, only to be unwittingly collared by Call Me Bubbles.

Now, whether Beach Of Falesa would have won under stronger handling is neither here nor there, but, if Flood was guilty of an offence on Tuesday, it is peculiar that O'Brien wasn't -- at the very least -- called in over his ride.

On Tuesday, Flood tweeted: "Getting fairly sick of Irish racing at this stage ... (the stewards) were trying to make a statement I think. If it was a higher profile rider methinks the outcome would be diff."

He is entitled to feel hard done by. Indeed, what can be done for the "good reputation" of Irish horse racing?

Racing Diary

Monday: Dundalk (AW), Killarney*, Ayr, Southwell (AW), Windsor*, Wolverhampton* (AW)

Tuesday: Killarney*, Beverley, Ffos Las, Southwell* (AW), Yarmouth*

Wednesday: Killarney*, Catterick, Lingfield, Sandown*, Uttoxeter, Worcester*

Thursday: Killarney*, Leopardstown*, Bath*, Brighton, Doncaster*, Epsom*, Hamilton, Leicester

Friday: Kilbeggan*, Ascot, Haydock, Newmarket*, Nottingham, Pontefract*

Saturday: Curragh, Ascot, Cartmel, Haydock*, Lingfield*, Market Rasen, Newmarket, Ripon

Sunday: Curragh, Tipperary, Ascot, Newton Abbot, Redcar

Irish Independent

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