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Relko's untapped star quality can light up Mallow

Morning inspections are scheduled for Cork and Naas to determine the fate of this weekend's domestic racing, with the odds far more in favour of this afternoon's amended card proceeding at the Mallow venue.

The threat of severe frost overnight prompted Cork's precautionary 8.0 inspection even though the track was deemed raceable yesterday, with the going obviously heavy after the cancellation of their two chases.

In stark contrast, the Naas course was covered in snow yesterday.

It would be a pity if Naas is cancelled as a couple of their races, notably the Goffs Slaney Novice Hurdle featuring Quel Esprit's hat-trick bid and a competitive novice chase, promised decent fare.

Depending on the vagaries of the weather and how long the cold snap lasts, there's some prospect of Horse Racing Ireland managing to re-arrange this fixture, with no meeting here again until Thurles next Thursday.

Unless a heavy frost intervenes in Cork, jumping enthusiasts around the southern region could witness a reasonably entertaining session today sponsored in the main once more by McCarthy Insurances Group.

The local, in-form stables of Liam Burke in particular, Jimmy Mangan and Eoghan O'Grady are well represented during the meeting and much of the interest will focus on Kauto Star's half-brother Kauto Relko.

The French import's English owner Graham Roach of Viking Flagship fame has wisely entrusted the early education of this backward type to Burke and the omens are becoming more favourable after two falls in 'points.'

Last time out at this venue Kauto Relko finished quite strongly to open his account and Paul Townend's mount has an outstanding chance of following up in the McCarthy Insurances Group Hurdle which went to Kicking King in 2003.

This is a trappy affair, on paper at least, despite a mere half-dozen acceptors with Jimmy Mangan's Next Week rated 6lb higher and Tom Nagle's American Job dropping back in trip after a good run here behind Quel Esprit.

Mr Warbucks from Adrian Maguire's yard in close proximity to the course also reverts to two and a quarter miles after enjoying mixed luck over fences to indicate Kauto Relko won't have an easy task this time.

Nevertheless the nap vote goes to Burke's charge on the basis of his untapped potential and the probability of the extra quarter mile proving no drawback.

Busier stable companion Dolly Hall, which has not been enjoying the best of fortune, has top weight to overcome now in the opening mares handicap hurdle and she may have to settle for additional place money.

Even more unlucky at Clonmel last month was John Berry's charge Pretty Happy which was disqualified by the stewards after a hard-earned success in heavy ground when her young rider weighed in a fraction light.

Regular pilot Robbie Moran is back aboard the Wexford runner today and they should secure a measure of compensation.

A Leopardstown casualty when going well behind Prince Of Fire last weekend, Shane Rock could make amends in the Kanturk Maiden Hurdle despite the more obvious claims of Gold Cygnet and Second Glance.

Irish Independent