Saturday 21 September 2019

'Stormy' can highlight her class as Annamix debuts

Stormy Ireland and Ruby Walsh over the last flight to win the Grabel Mares Hurdle at Punchestown. Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post
Stormy Ireland and Ruby Walsh over the last flight to win the Grabel Mares Hurdle at Punchestown. Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

There's no shortage of quality on show at Limerick today where all eyes will be on the Grade Three Irish Independent Hurdle (1.40) with a cracking field of five going to post for the €34,000 pot at the Patrickswell track.

Last year's Triumph Hurdle winner Farclas wasn't disgraced in the Grade One Hatton's Grace at Fairyhouse earlier this month when chasing home Cullentra stablemate Apple's Jade, but Gordon Elliott's four-year-old should find the going much more to his liking here.

The Gigginstown runner isn't short of competition, however, with Gavin Cromwell's Espoir D'Allen bouncing back to his best when taking advantage of Saldier's final-hurdle fall to land the Grade Three Fishery Lane Hurdle at Naas last month.

Espoir D'Allen had the beating of Farclas in a Grade Two at this meeting 12 months ago and there should be little between the pair, while Willie Mullins' Saglawy is another that commands serious respect.

Already a Grade Two hurdle winner after scoring at Fairyhouse in April, Saglawy performed well on his seasonal reappearance in a lucrative Fairyhouse handicap hurdle but Paul Townend's decision to side with Stormy Ireland suggests she is the Closutton number one.

Mullins' mare has oozed class when staying on her feet over hurdles with a pair of impressive Listed victories to her name, including a comfortable victory at Punchestown last month.

The likely front-runner is an exciting type and in receipt of plenty of weight running against the males, she could prove hard beaten and can plunder a vintage renewal.

There will be very few maiden hurdles watched as closely this year as the Future Ticketing.ie Maiden Hurdle (2.10) which sees the long-awaited debut of French recruit Annamix for champion trainer Mullins.

Already 8/1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, Annamix has been a talking horse since heading to Closutton from Guillaume Macaire, but hasn't seen a racecourse in 830 days.

While the grey should oblige given the esteem he is held in by Mullins, he has it all to prove having been turned over on his sole French start and there may be value elsewhere.

The aptly-named Accidental is also a story and a half given that his sire Miguel Angel was said to be a gelding at the time of his conception and he makes his debut for Mags Mullins.

Owned and 'bred' by Patrick Mullins his progress should be noted, while Sean O'Keeffe and Jessica Harrington - who combined to score at Leopardstown yesterday - are quickly reunited with Press Conference.

A useful Bumper performer last season, Harrington's five-year-old should improve massively from his hurdling debut behind Tornado Flyer earlier this month and can make the frame to reward each-way punters.

Mullins looks to have another ready-made winner with Undressed in the Cube Veterans Handicap Chase (1.05) and it would be a surprise if this wasn't well within the compass of the 10-year-old.

Having made a satisfactory debut for Mullins at Fairyhouse when travelling well into the straight before bottoming out over a marathon trip, dropping back below 3m should be far more to the liking of the course and distance winner, and Townend can steer him home in front.

Elliott has interesting runners in both divisions of the Parkway Shopping Centre Handicap Hurdle but the first of those, It's A Long Story (2.45), could be the most likely scorer.

Few rival Elliott when it comes to improving a new inmate and he can do the needful on his second run for the Meath trainer - also a part-owner - off a lowly rating of 80.

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