Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 18 November 2017

'Skipper' can lead the way to rich Bellewstown harvest

Thomas Kelly

Punters looking for a midweek 'pick-me-up' at Bellewstown will have to tread carefully as the combination of big fields and softening ground will not make finding winners easy.

In the circumstances, it might be advisable to stick with 'in-form' horses - such as Benkei and Aye Aye Skipper - as at least you can be fairly certain of getting a run for your money.

The latter, trained by Johnny Levins, is bidding to complete a hat-trick inside a week and on the basis of the way he won at the Curragh on Sunday, the five-year-old will be difficult to beat.

That victory at headquarters was achieved over six furlongs, but only four days earlier, the son of Captain Marvellous won over an extended mile at Killarney so this evening's trip won't be a problem.

The fact that promising apprentice Donagh O'Connor takes seven pounds off offsets his five-pound penalty, and provided his recent exertions haven't left too big a mark, Aye Aye Skipper should hold sway over likely dangers Credit The Giver and Botanical Lady.

The latter is trained by Harry Rogers and the Co Louth handler will have high hopes of capturing the featured 12-furlong handicap with the progressive Benkei.

The five-year-old followed up a win at Navan with a good second to Hurricane Sky at Leopardstown and then showed improved form to land a two-mile handicap at Galway where subsequent York winner Heartbreak City was back in third.

While the drop back to 12 furlongs and the presence of last month's impressive Navan winner Vale Do Sol ensure that his will not be a straightforward task, Pat Smullen's mount remains the one they all have to beat.

Smullen should get off to a winning start courtesy of Ample Sufficiency in the opening auction maiden. Dermot Weld's inmate is likely to go off favourite on the back of his promising debut at Leopardstown in which he finished third to Miss Gossip.

Followers of the Smullen-Weld axis are also likely to row in with Valac in the one-mile maiden, though a note of caution is advised as this one has to make amends for a poor run at Galway.

Irish Independent

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