Tuesday 11 December 2018

O'Sullivan hopes Baie Des Iles can make light of heavy going

Walsh will be on board the mud-loving Baie Des Iles, which might appreciate further but will certainly relish the deep underfoot conditions. Photo: Stock Image
Walsh will be on board the mud-loving Baie Des Iles, which might appreciate further but will certainly relish the deep underfoot conditions. Photo: Stock Image

Thomas Kelly

Katie Walsh has fond memories of the Tim Duggan Memorial Handicap Chase at Limerick as back in 2011 she guided Seabass to an all-the-way win for her father, Ted.

This time she has another family member to please, her husband Ross O'Sullivan. Walsh will be on board the mud-loving Baie Des Iles, which might appreciate further but will certainly relish the deep underfoot conditions.

Baie Des Iles put up a career-best around this time last year when a fine fifth to Native River in the Welsh Grand National.

Trainer O'Sullivan said: "The ground will be ideal for Baie Des Iles and she has come on a good bit for her run over hurdles at Navan.

"That run should leave her spot on for this and, while I would be a bit worried about the trip, with the ground the way it is you'd be hoping it will take a bit of getting."

There would be no more poignant winner than The West's Awake, trained by Edward O'Grady, who tragically lost his wife Maria earlier in the year.

The West's Awake has a soft spot for Limerick. He has visited the track three times and his form figures read 311. He won a novice chase by nine lengths on his most recent visit in July.

Perhaps his most impressive display has been away from Limerick, though. He was a 16/1 outsider for a competitive five-runner novice chase at Punchestown last month but belied those big odds by beating Woods Well in decisive fashion.

Harsh

Speaking about the chances of The West's Awake, O'Grady said: "He's in very good form and obviously likes Limerick. There was no race to go for over the Christmas period but this one, so we're going to have a go.

"I thought the handicapper was a bit harsh to give him a 6lb penalty for that and it won't be easy for him to carry such a big weight on such soft ground."

We do not get to see Sumos Novios too often, but when he does appear he does not disappoint. He has either won or been placed on seven of his 11 outings, and the softer the ground, the better his chance.

The ex-Harry Fry-trained Charmix has not set the world alight on two starts for Gordon Elliott so far, but it is worth remembering he was once rated 145 across the pond and is now down to an attractive mark of 138.

Others to note in a typically-competitive renewal of this handicap chase are the John Queally-trained Uncle Danny, which has a clear-cut success over General Principle from Cork last season on his CV, and Fine Theatre from the Paul Nolan stable, which has in-demand claimer Donie McInerney on board taking off a valuable 5lb.

Elsewhere on the Limerick card, Crackerdancer makes her eagerly-awaited debut over hurdles in the 2m2f mares maiden hurdle (12.55) and it would come as a big surprise if she did not continue her winning spree for trainer Ray Hackett and jockey Eoin O'Brien.

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