Monday 23 April 2018

On-fire King can burn off title rivals

Trainer David Wachman
Trainer David Wachman

Connor King can extend his lead in his quest to reclaim the apprentices’ title that he won in 2013 when he partners Fire Tree for his boss David Wachman at Dundalk tonight.

Last year, the talented native of Kilbrin in Co Cork finished third to Colin Keane, having denied the same rival the young riders’ championship 12 months earlier. Following that sensational first season and a slightly more difficult second album, King has consolidated his position this year.

Despite his tall frame placing some limitations on his bookings, he has already bagged 26 turf season winners, four more than he did all last term.

Crucially, he is eight clear of Robbie Downey in the apprentices’ table, so he won’t have to do much more to become the first rider in recent times to regain the title after losing it.

King has some decent mounts this evening, but nothing appeals quite as much as Fire Tree in the Nursery. A son of underrated sire Cacique, Fire Tree contested his first handicap on his fourth start at Down Royal last month.

Off a mark of 70 over seven furlongs, he finished with a real flourish after getting a little outpaced, eventually coming home third, three lengths behind stablemate Flirt. That left the impression that he might be best over a mile, but this doesn’t look an especially hot seven-furlong contest, so he is fancied to justify nap billing.

Wachman’s other two runners also have chances. In the concluding 12-furlong handicap, the Galway winner Nova looks favourably treated off a first-time mark of 84 under Wayne Lordan, while Back On Top should go close in the €29,000 fillies’ handicap.

Mick Halford’s Cailin Mor is the one to beat in this, but fancied to run well off a low weight is Best Not Argue. The John Murphy-trained three-year-old won tidily at Galway a month ago, beating Ibergman, which has since regained the winning thread at Navan.

Tonight, Best Not Argue is in off a five-pound higher mark, but she will carry a negligible 7st 8lb when Killian Leonard’s 10lb claim is factored in.

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