Queen Of Cool has speed to reign supreme at revamped Ballinrobe
A typical mixed card kicks off the two-day fixture at Ballinrobe this evening where the opening meeting of 2010 heralded in a new era for the popular Mayo venue as their upgraded facilities were unveiled.
Spectators for tonight's fare may be glad to avail of the greater areas of shelter, never mind the smarter bars and restaurant, if the forecast for showers comes to pass following watering of the prevailing fast ground.
As the session's most valuable event, the mares handicap hurdle -- sponsored by the western region of the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders' Association -- fittingly has a competitive-looking field with Gudnis Gracious Me, Queen Of Cool, Caffeine Craze and Fearnwood Girl all winners last time out.
The former pair ultimately could prove the main players as Caffeine Craze won over three miles at Punchestown and Fearnwood Girl at the minimum trip in Sligo. In contrast, Queen Of Cool opened her account in some style at Killarney over two-and-a-half miles and the trail-blazing Gudnis Gracious Me delivered over slightly lesser yardage in Downpatrick.
The latter can be expected to ensure a proper stamina test again under Sean McDermott, but the manner in which Tim Doyle's Queen Of Cool quickened up to score at the Kerry track suggested there would be more to come from her.
Kerry native McDermott could be better rewarded in the concluding Supermacs Handicap Hurdle as Aidan Howard's Daggers Bond is back in action under a mandatory 6lb penalty after Friday night's Cork success, while an 8lb hike might not prevent Gerry Keane's Lynott from following up a Roscommon victory in the FBD Insurance Handicap under Davy Moran.
The Jennings Meats Handicap is the opening leg of the Jackpot and is a tricky affair in which no more than a hopeful vote goes to Kieran Cotter's Coughlans Locke, which has a previous course and distance success to recommend Shane Foley's mount. Another small yard, that of James Cousins, can strike too with Persian Gayle (Mulholland Bookmakers Maiden Hurdle) after a fine Cork effort behind Bootlegger.
Pat Smullen boasts a good strike rate at the course and followers of the former champion could be collecting after Joanna Morgan's Alamshar filly Snap Alam tackles the opening Tipperary Water Median Auction Maiden, but his Wexford winner Anaverna may be outgunned in the Stallion Farms Fillies Race by the higher-rated Alshahbaa despite her absence of 217 days.