Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 20 January 2018

St devote to strike for premier league stars

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

In a competitive-looking Galway City Publicans Handicap Hurdle at Ballybrit tomorrow, St Devote may be the horse to keep on side.

Eoin Doyle's five-year-old, which is owned by an assortment of Premier League footballers, isn't the most straightforward individual around, but conditions at Galway will be in his favour.

A winner of a bumper at Bellewstown a year ago, the son of Saint Des Saints has at times been a bit too keen for his own good since going over hurdles.

After winning a maiden on his reappearance at Limerick in May, he took a good hold before fading into third in a novice event at Wexford.

On his only subsequent outing, St Devote was similarly eager when stepped up to two and a half miles at Galway. The extra distance clearly didn't suit the horse on that occasion, so the return to two miles on fast ground is expected to be to his advantage now.

Even more significant, however, is that this is St Devote's first outing in a handicap. The assessor has given him a mark of 115 which, on the pick of his form, doesn't appear unduly harsh.

Impersonator and Gudnis Gracious Me are probably the two that the selection has most to fear from. Winners of five races between them this summer, both have their chance, but the suspicion is that the handicapper may have got hold of them by now.

Later on the card, King Ali warrants support in the Guinness Handicap Chase. Charles Byrnes' in-form Alfa Beat will doubtless be popular here. A winner over flights last time, Alfa Beat has gone up two stone for his two previous wins over fences, and that may be enough to stop him in his tracks.

King Ali is on a retrieval mission after his amateur rider Tony Kelly sat up before the finishing line when stuck in a tight finish with Wins Now at the course last month.

Whether the error cost the Pat Kelly-trained horse the race is hard to say, but he is a pound better off with Wins Now tomorrow, and Kelly will surely do all he can to set the record straight.

Irish Independent

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