Revitalised Flanagan to score again aboard Omega Springs
Sean Flanagan's rejuvenation has been one of the standout themes through the early part of the campaign and he could get among the winners again today aboard Omega Springs.
The Wexford native enjoyed a decent level of success in his fledgling years, culminating with a memorable Thyestes Chase triumph aboard Jimmy Mangan's Whinstone Boy in 2010. Since then, though, life in the saddle has been much more of a grind for Flanagan (below).
Having clocked a career-high of 23 wins in 2009, he averaged just four wins a season between 2011 and 2014. However, he kept chipping away, and his resolve yielded some reward with 13 triumphs last term. Already this season, he is flying high with 16 in the bag, including two valuable feature-event successes aboard Misty Lady at Listowel and Gowran Park.
Omega Springs, trained in Clonmel by Liam Casey, contests a modest but competitive two-mile handicap hurdle at Thurles this afternoon. A field of 18 will go to post for the two-miler, but Flanagan's mount nonetheless appeals as nap material.
At Casey's local venue a week ago, Omega Springs missed the second-last flight, from which point Manuka, which re-opposes here, had first run on him. By the time the line came, the runner-up had clawed the deficit to a diminishing half-length.
This time, after Manuka's six-pound penalty is taken into account, Omega Springs is three pounds better off. That should be enough to see this progressive sort gain a deserved first win.
Flanagan is pencilled in for Harry Kelly's Springbelle in the handicap chase that features yesterday's tidy Fairyhouse winner, Fr Humphrey. On the assumption that Mary Louise Hallahan's charge won't run, this three-miler could go the way of One Fine Morning in the hands of Jonathan Burke.
Ronnie O'Leary's nine-year-old won off a mark of 100 last year. He has been placed on his last three outings off 95, and should go close again off a two-pound higher mark.
Mick Winters' Perfect Woman is likely to make a quick reappearance in the mares' handicap hurdle. Just five have been declared for this, but May Dullea, Urban Dusk and Boherna Lady are others in grand form.
Perfect Woman must contend with a six-pound penalty for what was a decisive victory at Cork on Sunday. If none the worse for her exertions, she should be hard to beat again under Mark Walsh.
Burke will have a big say in the beginners' chase on Jim Dreaper's first-timer Venetien De Mai, but Salsa Sensation is marginally preferred for Walsh's regular employer, JP McManus.
The Ted Walsh-trained six-year-old tired into third behind Captain Von Trappe on its fencing bow at Galway. The Downpatrick maiden hurdle winner will need to do better here, but the suspicion is that he has the scope to do so for Barry Geraghty.