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O'Connell can steer sebadee clear of rivals

Tomorrow's Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Chase at Cork could come down to a clash between Sebadee and Mr Cracker, with the latter the most likely favourite on the back of an impressive fencing debut at Limerick last week.

Useful over hurdles as a novice last season, Mr Cracker improved on a reasonable reappearance over flights at Navan to win with the minimum of fuss on Sunday. Being a Gigginstown Stud-owned horse, he is sure to continue to improve now, but Sebadee is no slouch and may represent a bit of value at around 9/2.

A consistent handicap hurdler that won for John Murphy at Tramore in April, Sebadee was having its first start for Ken Condon when landing a beginners' event at Downpatrick last month. Under smart claimer Eddie O'Connell, who steers again tomorrow, the Cape Cross gelding jumped fluently to win in taking fashion.

On the balance of form, Mr Cracker is probably the best horse in the race, but the forecast going at the Mallow venue is good to firm, and the suspicion is that Sebadee will cope better with that type of surface. While Sebadee's northern win came on good to yielding, his previous triumphs were achieved on quicker conditions.

Granted, the drop back to two and a half miles from three is a slight concern, but Sebadee's two hurdling wins at Tramore came over two miles, so he seems versatile. With O'Connell's claim helping to negate the weight he must concede to his six rivals, Sebadee looks a sound option.

In the preceding Kinsale Handicap Chase, Keelaghan is hard to oppose under Ruby Walsh. Tony Martin's 10-year-old has been frustrating at times during his career, but he has shown respectable form in recent months.

Benefiting from a fine Walsh ride in a conditions event at Ballinrobe in August, Keelaghan won for the first time in seven starts, and he has followed that with two runner-up finishes at Dundalk. If he can hold that level of form now, a 5lb penalty for winning at Ballinrobe won't be enough to deny him.

Irish Independent