Rattan can take Dundalk feature
IF THURSDAY afternoon racing is a rarity in the middle of the summer, then a two-mile Flat handicap being by far the most valuable race of the day is equally uncommon.
This evening's programme at Leopardstown offers fairly standard fare, with Dundalk, this afternoon, the venue that is making the departure from the usual on a dual card that is shared with the greyhound sector.
Topping the bill, from an equine perspective on the Boylesports promotion, is the long-distance handicap that boasts a prize fund of €22,500 -- though there is a lop-sided look to the race owing to Steps To Freedom's presence at the head of the weights.
Jessica Harrington's versatile six-year-old, third to Fame And Glory at Navan in May, is rated upwards of 16lb higher than his nine opponents. While that is a big concession, the sound all-weather surface should favour a horse that desperately needs decent going.
That said, Willie Mullins' Rattan might prove difficult to beat for Pat Smullen following a fine second in the Ulster Derby.
Buy Back Bob, fifth then, has since given the form a solid look by finishing second at the Curragh, so Rattan has obvious appeal off just 8st 1lb now.
Norah Starr, making her first start for Denis Hogan after attracting the attention of the stewards at Limerick at the end of March, is another to watch in the market, though one or two of these might simply be too good for her.
The ever-dependable Smullen has two decent rides for Dermot Weld earlier on, namely Exhortation and Storm Lightning.
However, both are opposed, with Willie McCreery's Judies Child possibly more suited by the five-furlong trip than Exhortation in the opening Hibernia Steel Handicap.
A runner-up over the trip four times from five tries, Wayne Lordan's partner is due a rub of the green.
In the maiden that follows over six furlongs, Storm Lightning has his first outing since finishing second here over seven in October.
Again, he might just need that fraction further, so Mick Halford's Multitasking, beaten just a nose by Exhortation over course and distance in May, gets the nod under an in-form Shane 'Dusty' Foley.
At Leopardstown, Beach Of Falesa makes a quick reappearance in the 12-furlong handicap after being chinned at Roscommon on Monday night.
Caught on the line by Call Me Bubbles on his handicap bow, despite merely being ridden out hands and heels by Joseph O'Brien, the three-year-old ought to make amends now in the colours of the jockey's mother Anne-Marie.
Buckingham Gate, stepping up to 12 furlongs in the Jape Maiden after finishing second over 10 furlongs on his first start of the year at Down Royal, is another Ballydoyle representative that the 19-year-old rider can collect on, while he also has a decent chance on Beat The Ballot in the Jogforjockeys.ie Handicap.
Second to the re-opposing Our Conor at Naas on his seasonal debut, Tracey Collins' runner is 4lb better off here for that half-length defeat.