Romanesco can leave opposition in his wake
The running order for this afternoon's National Hunt fixture at Gowran Park has been rearranged slightly in recent days, with the two chases on the seven-race programme now the opening events on the card.
In the first race, at 12.45, just five horses are declared, but the Irish Stallion Farms EBF-sponsored novice chase could still be a fascinating contest. Henry de Bromhead saddles the potential favourite Romanesco.
The lightly raced five-year-old justified market support to score on his chasing debut at Fairyhouse recently, and he is the horse to beat again today. Charlie Swan's Second Glance, 10 lengths behind Romanesco in third last time, has franked the form by winning at Cork, so it's hard to oppose Andrew Lynch's mount in slow conditions that he handles well.
Of the opposition, Taking Stock and Bremen may be best equipped to throw down a challenge. Taking Stock, from John Kiely's in-form stable, looked set to score for a third successive time before falling at the second-last at Limerick a fortnight ago, while Bremen can build on a fortuitous win on his first chasing start at Tipperary.
The Irish Racing Yearbook Handicap Chase follows, and Second Glance should supplement his win last week by defying a 6lb hike here. At just five years old, Swan's charge has scope to improve.
The Pat Fahy-trained Gaelic Grounds, two from two this term, is the selection's most obvious danger.
Davy Russell, who has eaten into a large deficit in the jockeys' championship with nine winners this month, will be to the fore again on Tornado Shay in the five-year-olds maiden hurdle. Dessie Hughes' Wexford bumper winner Definite Class ought to be thereabouts, but Tornado Shay was of a far superior standard in that sphere.
Later on, Eric McNamara's return to form can continue when he saddles last month's Clonmel winner Whiskey Hall. Current Recession also catches the eye under Shane Jackson, but Paul Townend's mount won with a bit in hand for McNamara last time.