O'Meara raider Custom-made to repeat his Curragh success
At the end of a triumphant week for Anglo-Irish relations, ex-pats David O'Meara and Custom Cut can make the most of their fleeting return home by securing a valuable triumph in the Gladness Stakes at the Curragh tomorrow.
A year ago, Custom Cut recorded a shock 25/1 triumph in the €62,000 Group Three while still in the care of Tramore-based George Kent. He hasn't won since, but there was a lot to like about the way that he shaped on his debut for Co Cork-born Yorkshire handler O'Meara at Doncaster in March, when he battled gamely to be beaten a length in a Listed race over a mile.
The mud-loving five-year-old emerged best on official ratings as a result, so it is worth speculating that he can build on that performance here as he seeks to concede weight all round.
Granted, Custom Cut wouldn't want the ground to dry out too much, but he drops back to his optimum seven-furlong trip and is race-fit, so he has plenty going for him under Daniel Tudhope.
Ballydoyle's disappointing Cristoforo Colombo and Paul Deegan's improving Sruthan are among the main dangers, with Wannabe Better another threat. Tommy Stack's filly ran a little flat on her reappearance here last month, but she is nicely in if she can leave that display behind her now.
Stack saddles another cracking filly in Alive Alive Oh in the Irish Field Alleged Stakes. Given the typically prolific early season form that the Tipperary stable is in, last year's dual winner warrants plenty respect, as do the likes of Parish Hall, Inis Meain and Tarana.
However, no one has hit the ground running to a greater extent than Dermot Weld, and the wily Rosewell House handler can add to his haul in this with the Irish Lincolnshire hero Stuccodor. Pat Smullen's mount scored off 102 on that occasion, prompting the handicapper to hike him to a mark of 109.
A brilliantly versatile gelding, Stuccodor is certainly progressive, and if the assessor is accurate, he could be poised to gain a deserved Listed success in this 10-furlong affair.
Smullen's fellow former champion jockey Declan McDonogh is also tipped to get among the winners when he partners Gordon Elliott's recent hurdle victor Taglietelle in the 12-furlong handicap,
Meanwhile, the title-holder Joseph O'Brien should take the concluding maiden aboard his father Aidan's Adjusted. The Montjeu colt had the re-opposing Marakoush behind when second to Fascinating Rock on its return, so this should be within his reach if he improves.
At Tramore, the point-to-point winning Shake It Up is napped to end a frustrating period for Jim Dreaper in the longer maiden hurdle, having shown up prominently over an inadequate trip when fifth on his Limerick bow.
Los Amigos' two wins before Christmas remain Dreaper's only firsts this season, but he has saddled a massive 18 runners-up. A full brother to his Irish Grand National fancy Goonyella, Shake It Up can excel under Andrew Lynch, who recently completed his first half-century of winners in a single domestic campaign.
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