Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 14 December 2019

Pivot Bridge can prevail over familiar foes at Listowel

Pivot Bridge, under David Splaine, is a real contender for the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle at Listowel. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Pivot Bridge, under David Splaine, is a real contender for the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle at Listowel. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Richard Forristal

Charlie Swan's The Game Changer tops a 16-strong field of familiar foes under man-of-the-moment Johnny Burke in this afternoon's Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle at Listowel.

Burke has been flavour of month since being appointed as Alan Potts' retained jockey, Minella Tweet giving him his third winner of the week at the Co Kerry venue on Monday and a fifth success from seven rides.

The talented 18-year-old is in increasing demand, and he won a decent Killarney race on The Game Changer last month, before steering it into second behind Darwins Fox at Cork.

Plenty of these see plenty of each other, with Jessica Harrington's Macnicholson fifth to The Game Changer at Killarney prior to finishing second on the Flat at Wexford. The handicapper may have a hold of the Punchestown scorer but he will remain competitive.

Hurricane Jojo and Xsquared finished third and fourth in the Killarney race, while Casimir Road was a gallant second to Xsquared at Bellewstown previously.

Casimir Road is in here again, as is Pivot Bridge, which had him and The Game Changer behind when victorious in a valuable contest at Killarney back in May.

The Ado McGuinness-trained Pivot Bridge is especially interesting in this €40,000 event under Burke's fellow Corkonian claimer, David Splaine. He remains unexposed over flights with just 10 starts, and he has won three of his last six, with a fine second to Macnicholson at Punchestown preceding his Killarney coup.

Crucially, Pivot Bridge is a horse that likes to race on the pace, so these tight tracks suit him and he drew clear with real authority at Killarney. Granted, he is 10lbs worse off with The Game Changer now, but the manner with which he prevailed would suggest that is entirely surmountable.

On his last hurdle outing at Punchestown in early June, Pivot Bridge finished fifth behind Desertmore Stream, when Casimir Road ran second. He looked for a while as if he was about to drop out of contention, but came home well when he got his second wind.

Desertmore Stream has gone on to frank that form in style, and Pivot Bridge is now all of 10lbs better off with the runner-up. That makes him a particularly appealing player here off just 9st 10lb when you factor in Splaine's three-pound allowance, so he is put forward as nap material in an otherwise open contest.

The Devon Inn Hotel Handicap Hurdle is another cracking heat, but Grove Field is also strongly fancied in this. John Queally's Memories Of Milan heads the weights under Davy Russell as it steps back up to three miles having recently scored at Cork over two.

Buster Dan Dan and Point Of Rescue are last-time-out maiden winners to consider, and the Burke-ridden Tiger Bay Lady is another with a life after finishing fifth on its handicap bow at Bellewstown.

However, Grove Field is the one to keep on side.

Colm Murphy's seven-year-old broke its maiden on quick ground at Clonmel last autumn, and he has run well in his only two starts over this three-mile trip, latterly beaten just over a length when a cracking fifth to Our Man Zebo off a mark of 105 here in June.

He has gone up a pound for that, but the suspicion is that Murphy has since protected his rating for a return to this track.

Grove Field has run just twice over fences in the meantime, and the evidence to date suggests he simply isn't cut out for that particular job. He should have a big say now that he reverts to hurdles under Robbie Power.

Willie Mullins' Security Breach is fancied to build on its fencing debut third behind Hurricane Ridge at Killarney and foil Jim Culloty's Russell-ridden Vaxalco in the beginners' chase.

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