Russell to benefit Bentelimar
Davy Russell is one of the finest horsemen to sit on a jumper and he can prove key to Bentelimar winning the feature at Killarney.
The Youghal native is a key booking aboard the highest weight in the lucrative Ladbrokes Ireland Handicap Hurdle. Quietly fancied in a Galway Hurdle that worked out to be something of a mess for him, Bentelimar then ran a nice race in a Grade C contest last month.
The way he stayed on under 7lb claimer Katie O'Farrell was encouraging then. He is not the easiest of rides, frequently taking a grip, and Russell is a major help today.
There could be a nice pot in the pacy St Stephens Green in due course and he has his share of class but this is tough going for one of scant experience. Herminator is also of intrigue, albeit under an amateur not accustomed to the hurly burly of races like this.
The €20,000 Behans Horseshoe Bar & Restaurant Handicap sees Adrian McGuinness enter a couple and Face Value may take catching. A hardy course-and-distance winner, he battled bravely over hurdles last time and, given the state of the ground in North Kerry, it is easy enough to envisage him having his six foes on the stretch.
Russell can double up in the Kevin McManus Beginners Steeplechase aboard Kerrieonvic, which has been off the track for 306 days but may be sharp enough for the wily Charles Byrnes. Kerrieonvic stays farther than today's distance and may get the better of Woodford Island.
The nap vote can provide Jim Bolger with his first winner in September. Burning Sword is near-impossible to oppose after an inspiring neck second on debut at Galway, six lengths clear of the experienced third.
He handles an ease and it is hard to envisage anything having enough to get the better of him here.
Floral Fantasy is one of a couple of runners in the Devon Inn Hotel Handicap Hurdle for JP McManus who, remarkably, had no representative in the Kerry National. The six-year-old mare has developed into a reliable sort and she should be capable of scoring again, with a mark of 119 no issue.
The Helena Sheahan Memorial (Pro/Am) Flat Race is a cracking contest, with five previous winners in the field. Don Picas produced a striking effort at Roscommon recently when never off the bridle and he gets the nod.
Things are looking up for Irish Champion Stakes also-ran Harzand, which was reportedly struck into early in a contest for which he was sent off a warm favourite.
"He seems to be recovering well and quickly, all roads lead to the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe," said rider Pat Smullen. Connections remain cautious about his ability to recover in time.