Saturday 24 February 2018

Smullen set to close gap on Keane with strong hand for Killarney raid

Pat Smullen. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Pat Smullen. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Just three rides for Pat Smullen as Killarney's Rose Of Tralee Festival meeting reaches day two - but all three are in with chances, especially the nap vote in the opening auction maiden.

Andesh, a particularly nice-looking son of Medicean, stands out a mile here on his recent debut second to the potentially smart Mendelssohn at the Curragh. He got to within a length of the somewhat green winner and looks a certainty here if he handles the ground, trainer Michael Halford presumably fairly confident that he will.

Smullen may double up when teaming up with Harry Rogers in the International Hotel Killarney Handicap. Given that it was her handicap debut, Ojinkintka performed with great credit at Roscommon, doggedly keeping to the task, and she has solid claims now with cheekpieces tried.

And the champion rider could make it three from three in race three, the staying Laurels Pub & Restaurant Gold Cup Handicap. Aydoun, which looked to be back to himself when winning a maiden hurdle at Galway for Dermot Weld, is potentially better than a rating of 90 in a race in which Willie Mullins has three.

Smullen is attempting to close the gap on leader Colin Keane, who also has three mounts. Donnacha O'Brien, in third place in the standings and in need of winners, has none on this occasion.

Halford ought to enjoy a double too, with easy Tramore winner Miss Snossyboots hard to oppose under a penalty and Conor McGovern from gate one in a Ross Golf Course Apprentice Handicap seemingly devoid of legitimate contenders.

The John Lane & Sons Tralee (Q.R.) Race is a cracker. Mullins' Max Dynamite, rather underwhelming if not disgraced when favourite in the Galway Hurdle, was second in the Melbourne Cup in 2015 and should be too strong now, in receipt of 4lb from Galway Plate fifth Sandymount Duke.

Three Jumps races follow and Neddyvaughan is taken to snare an ordinary Owens McCarthy Claims Handicap Chase for Christy Roche, while William Du Berlais is put forward in a pretty weak Kelly Foley & Co Fitzpatrick Handicap Chase for Enda Bolger.

His rider, Barry Geraghty, can also take the concluding Killarney Oaks Hotel Beginners' Chase for Joseph O'Brien aboard Galway casualty Oathkeeper.

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