Thursday 22 February 2018

Mullins' Kerb Appeal may be out of luck at Kilbeggan

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Kilbeggan hosts the day's sole domestic card, their seven-race National Hunt programme getting under way at 5.40.

Having been forced to abandon the steeplechases in advance of the last fixture due to the ground being under repair, the Co Westmeath venue features its first races of the year over the bigger obstacles.

The schedule also includes the official launch of the new Tote Go Racing Club, but the pick of the on-track activity is the FBD Insurance Hurdle. A field of 11 goes to post for the three-mile contest, with Willie Mullins' Kerb Appeal sure to be popular.

A winner of a bumper and a maiden hurdle before finishing a fair third in a graded race at Thurles, Paul Townend's mount never got a look in on his handicap debut at Fairyhouse. Freshened up since then, Kerb Appeal is the horse to beat on ratings, but One Back For Luck comes here in good heart.

Lightly raced for a seven-year-old, 'Chich' Fowler's gelding broke his duck in impressive style over course and distance a fortnight ago. If he can build on that, he could be hard to beat again.

In the subsequent Fay Bookmakers Handicap Hurdle, Lucy Stone is another reappearing Kilbeggan winner. Tipper Road, twice placed over flights recently, is due a bit of luck but is getting no respite from the handicapper despite his age, while Bernabeu has his first start since the autumn.

However, Lucy Stone, which also took a bumper at the track last September, scored with a bit in hand a fortnight ago.

Under a big weight on her handicap debut, Michael Bowe's mare came home with four lengths to spare, and an extra 9lb might not stop her following up now.

Oscar Glory, which got closest to One Back For Luck last time, ought to be better for reverting to fences in the Belvedere House Gardens & Park Chase, while Marky Bob is worth a look in the ICA Centenary Celebration Maiden Hurdle. Third at Navan in March, Dessie Hughes' charge may enjoy the faster conditions.

There is more jumping activity at Limerick tomorrow, where the official going is also expected to be on the quick side.

The Supermacs Drive Thru Hurdle is the most valuable prize on offer, with €14,300 to the winner. Having come back to form in style over fences last time, Cuan Na Grai may be the one to side with in conditions that suit.

In the Souths Bar Beginners' Chase, Penny's Bill, Bob Will Fix It and Kennel Bridge are among a number with chances.

On the back of a blowout over flights, Penny's Bill, which was second in two outings over fences in the autumn, looks a solid option.

Hey Porter is taken to be better for an extra four furlongs in the three-mile handicap chase after finishing second over an inadequate trip last time, while Ballochroy gets the nod in the Limerick GAA Handicap Hurdle. Decent ground brings out the best in the five-year-old.

Irish Independent

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