Tuesday 23 January 2018

Simenon switch back to jumping set to pay dividends

If Willie Mullins' Simenon can perform to its ability, it should scoop the Kevin McManus Bookmaker Grimes Hurdle. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
If Willie Mullins' Simenon can perform to its ability, it should scoop the Kevin McManus Bookmaker Grimes Hurdle. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Simenon's switch back to jumping for the first time since December 2012 is a fascinating development ahead of this afternoon's Kevin McManus Bookmaker Grimes Hurdle.

Although Willie Mullins' seven-year-old hasn't won on the Flat since completing a famous Royal Ascot brace in 2012, he has campaigned admirably at a high level, most recently returning to Ascot with a fine effort to be fifth in the Gold Cup that he went so close in last year.

If he can translate that level of performance to hurdles in this €62,500 Grade Three, he should win for Paul Townend.

A two-time winner from eight previous hurdle tries, Simenon, Mullins' only runner at the Limerick Junction track, was placed behind Alderwood in a 2012 Punchestown Grade One as a novice. He then hacked up at Cork, before failing to cope with the deep winter ground on his return later on.

Granted, his relatively poor win ratio (none from his last 16 runs) is a slight concern, but he really should have the quality to get back to winning ways here, provided the forecast good ground holds up.

If he does, he could be an interesting contender for the Galway Hurdle later in the month.

It's hard to see Lucky William having a say on its return from an 806-day lay-off, but the likes of Sailors Warn, Little King Robin, Darwins Fox and Draycott Place are all respected.

Darwins Fox might be the selection's biggest danger, as he looked on fine terms with himself when last seen thrashing Sailors Warn off 6lb worse terms at Killarney in May.

Paul Carberry, who rides Draycott Place for John Ryan, is trusted to deliver the day's nap vote aboard Noel Meade's Gaius Marius in the Liambuckleycarsales.com Maiden Hurdle.

Ostensibly, this is a pretty open affair, but Gaius Marius has the potential to prove a class apart.

Placed in two Downpatrick bumpers last summer, the Tiger Hill six-year-old wasn't knocked about when sixth on his reappearance behind the smart Shemshal over flights at Down Royal on May 30. If he comes on for that initial jumping experience, he might just take plenty stopping.

Davy Condon could land the Costellos Tavern Handicap Hurdle on Gordon Elliott's recent Perth winner Pumper Up Kicks, while Ger Lyons' Belts And Braces is worth a look in the three-year-olds' mile maiden at Dundalk.

Third on its Fairyhouse bow over six furlongs behind stable-mate Bilderberg and Monsieur Power, the Big Bad Bob filly looked green and one-paced that day. If Colin Keane's mount comes on for the outing, she should be bang on there over this longer trip.

Irish Independent

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