Shukhov can bounce back for Levins
Johnny Levins' booking of Donagh O'Connor could prove crucial to Shukhov's chance at Dundalk tonight.
The excellent young handler's last seven runners at the all-weather venue have yielded two winners, three seconds and a third. He has secured the decent seven-pound claimer O'Connor for his contenders in either divide of this evening's 10-furlong handicap.
Havelock Ellis and Shukhov have both plummeted in the ratings and went close on their respective last starts here. It would be no surprise to see the two of them going one better, but Shukhov is fancied as nap material.
A five-time winner off marks of between 55 and 75, he was dropped to the basement rating of 47 for his latest outing two weeks ago. On that occasion, he just got edged out by the re-opposing Solar Benny under Ronan Whelan.
Consequently, the handicapper has put him up two pounds again, but he is still extremely well treated when you factor in O'Connor's allowance, so he should win.
Havelock Ellis has won four off marks ranging from 47 to 70. He is in off 57 so he must have a similar chance in the first division, but preferred in that is Tim Doyle's Artiste Celebre.
Placed here on his last two starts, this unexposed three-year-old has run just five times in all. Two weeks ago, he split Solar Benny and Sholokhov off a rating of 51. Conor Hoban's mount is in here off 53, and the suspicion is that he has more than enough scope to win off that mark.
Whelan can get among the winners aboard the Sheila Lavery-trained Danz Gift in the five-furlong handicap.
This is a tight little race featuring other recent winners Kimbay and Burren View Lady, as well as consistent regulars Chiclet, Fast In The Wind and Calm Bay. Any of the sextet could win, but it is worth keeping Danz Gift on side. When he scored here for a second time this month 14 days ago, he careered clear of Kimbay; Danz Gift has duly been hit with a 15lb hike for that. It may well be enough to stall his progress, but he is an improving four-year-old that might just defy the hit.
In the 12-furlong handicap that follows, Jim Bolger's Ringside Humour gets the nod to turn the tables on its recent conqueror Stronger Than Me now that they step up in trip, while the opening maiden could go the way of Mr Michael. Victorious Secret is the main danger to David Marnane's charge.