Punters should flock to back shepherd
The CCTV Venue Control Maiden Hurdle at Galway tomorrow looks a competitive contest, with a number of competitors out to break their duck over flights.
Dessie Hughes's Frisco Depot makes his hurdling debut, as does Tom Cooper's The Shepherd King. Start Me Up is another to consider, while Life Of Reilly has a chance if he recaptures the form that saw him take third on his debut at Navan a year ago.
Of that quartet, The Shepherd King appeals most. It is less than a year since the Marignan gelding made his debut in a point-to-point, falling at the last when in contention at Boulta before winning at Ballynoe in April.
The Shepherd King subsequently ran in a bumper at Tipperary. On that occasion, he met trouble in running on the final bend, before storming home to take third. After a summer's rest, he then reappeared at Listowel, fulfilling all his promise with an absolutely flawless performance to collect in the manner of a good horse.
Tomorrow's novice hurdle is a step up in class, but there are question marks hanging over a number of The Shepherd King's primary opponents. With the trainer's stylish son Bryan on board, another big performance is expected from the Kerry horse.
Also at Galway, Vivaldi could bring Askanna's fantastic sequence to an end in the Diamond Vision Novice Hurdle. Unbeaten in five -- two point-to-points, a bumper and two hurdles -- for Colin Bowe, Askanna now faces her stiffest task to date.
Vivaldi, while not appearing to stay an extended trip behind Sivota at Navan last month, is a useful sort when things fall into place for him. With the exception of that most recent run, the son of Montjeu had been running consistently all summer, and it would be no surprise to see him figure prominently again now.