Orr's claim can help The Brock Inn capture Tramore's feature prize for Nicholson
Flat racing gets its one look-in for the year at Tramore this afternoon and one wonders about the future of Flat racing at this venue.
Its nearest neighbour in the south-east, Wexford, has abandoned staging Flat meetings since they went right-handed and the overall size of the fields at Tramore today gives you the impression that, if it did become an all-jumping track, the lack of Flat racing might not even be noticed.
Today's action is a reasonable mix considering the limits on race distances and the feature Assembly Techniques Handicap (6.55) sees nine go to post. It's competitive, too.
Gordon Elliott sends Water Sprite here with Jack Kennedy on board.
This mare seems to buck the trend of many of the progeny of her sire Papal Bull needing quick ground. She has seemed far more at home with an ease in the ground which was seen quite dramatically with her victory in a 2m handicap at last month's Galway festival.
That length-and-a-quarter victory over Artful Artist was enough for the handicapper to raise her a whopping 15lb, and she looks to have plenty on her plate here. Captain Carleton comes here on the back of a very good Galway second to Striking Gold over a mile-and-a-half, and he looks sure to handle the quickish ground and his mark of 77 looks a workable one.
Despite some discouragement from her recent hurdles form, another that could have a big shout here is The Brock Inn.
John Nicholson's charge has won here over hurdles in the past and the last time she was seen on the Flat was when she was a very unlucky-in-running third under Pat Smullen in the Tipperary Cup at Clonmel in May. The five-year-old runs off the same mark here, and with promising apprentice Oisin Orr taking seven pounds off her back, she could be the answer to a tricky heat.
The opening fillies maiden (4.05) is the most valuable race of the day, attracting just seven runners with not a lot to choose between most of them.
It's unlikely that connections of Sing For Me thought they would have to go to Tramore to try and win a maiden with a filly of her pedigree, and while she won't have things her own way, a reproduction of her encouraging second to Brontide at Down Royal last month might be good enough to land this.
The other 12-furlong maiden looks quite an interesting contest with a mix of three-year-olds and older horses with plenty of jumping experience, and it looks a reasonable opportunity for John Oxx's Prince Charmin' to get his head in front under Declan McDonogh.
Oxx used to dominate these races when Flat racing was a little more frequent at this venue, and a reproduction of his fifth to Jim Bolger's highly-rated colt Twilight Payment at the Curragh last month could well suffice.
Tramore's August festival finishes with an all-jumps card tomorrow, but the quality is at Dundalk for a traditional mid-August fixture which stretches back to well before the opening of the all-weather facility nine years ago.
Two valuable handicaps, one of them a premier handicap, are the two features on a seven-race card and Curragh trainer Michael Halford looks to have genuine claims in both.
It looks especially interesting that Shane Foley has got off Dundalk specialist and stable favourite Russian Soul in the Bar One Racing Mourne Handicap in order to ride the Godolphin-owned three-year-old filly Vitello.
She has yet to show that she has fully trained on from a useful juvenile campaign but a decent effort behind Fort Del Oro in a Listed event at Naas last month was certainly a step in the right direction.
Halford, Foley and Godolphin look to have similar claims in the feature Irish Stallion Farms EBF Red God Handicap (4.15) with Tonkinese, which came back to something like his best when winning a three-runner conditions contest at Gowran Park last month.