Friday 19 January 2018

Stuccodor to score for powerful Walsh-Weld axis

Jockey Ruby Walsh
Jockey Ruby Walsh
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Ruby Walsh and Dermot Weld boast a 50pc strike rate together in recent years and they can enhance that record with Stuccodor at Gowran Park.

Over the past five seasons, the duo have combined 10 times and enjoyed five wins, returning a profit to a single unit level stake of 3.52. Stuccodor is likely to start favourite to add to their impressive yield in the second maiden hurdle at the Kilkenny venue, and he appeals as nap material to do so.

With consistent sorts such as Baily Cloud and Rathmuck Native among the selection's 11 rivals, the two-miler certainly won't be a formality for Stuccodor. Moreover, the ground, officially being given as good, has been deemed in need of watering, which might also count as a slight negative for a horse that relishes getting his toe in.

However, Stuccodor should simply have too much class. Successful in six of his 18 starts on the Flat, he won the Irish Lincolnshire last year off a mark of 102 and was also subsequently placed in Listed company.

He has finished second in each of his last three hurdle outings, most recently chasing home Thomas Hobson at Galway. That was a perfectly respectable effort behind a potentially smart individual.

If Stuccodor runs to the same level now, he really should be winning this. Walsh will probably also be on the horse to beat in the €25,000 Listed mares' hurdle. Robert Tyner's Carrigmoorna Rock is the highest rated of the seven runners in this.

At her best, Philip Enright's classy mount would doubtless be up to conceding weight all round, but she has something to prove after a couple of particularly lifeless turns at the end of last season.

With that in mind, Walsh and Whiteout could take a bit of stopping. Willie Mullins is also set to saddle the Galway disappointment Daisy's Gift, but Whiteout is the one to keep on side. The four-year-old French import won on the Flat at Down Royal last month, and she has won three and been second once in five starts over flights.

She was last seen over obstacles at Bellewstown in August, when she quickened clear to score from Miss Dinamic, which has since skated up at Perth. That was a good performance, and the fact that Whiteout receives weight from each of her rivals here makes her look a particularly sound proposition.

The card gets under way with a four-year-olds' maiden hurdle. It isn't the strongest race of its type, and it might be an opportunity for Jessica Harrington's Holy Water to collect. A son of Holy Roman Emperor that showed modest form in four Flat starts, Holy Water has made the frame in two of his three outings over jumps.

At Listowel last time, he raced handily before getting to the front at the final flight, only to get pipped on the line by a nose. He didn't do much wrong, and a reproduction of that display might be enough to see him home in front now.

At Dundalk tonight, there is a desperately disappointing turnout of just three runners for the €60,000 Group Three Diamond Stakes. Carla Bianca and Unsinkable come here having not been at their best of late, so it may fall to Panama Hat to take home the lion's share of the spoils.

Andy Oliver's four-year-old has emerged with real credit in defeat on his last two starts. Having won a Roscommon Listed race in July, he flew the flag with aplomb in the American St Leger, just run out of it late on by Lucky Speed.

He again finished second at Leopardstown last time, keeping on six lengths behind Fascinating Rock.

With John F Kennedy a long way back in third, that was a fair showing, so Panama Hat is fancied to oblige for Chris Hayes on a course and distance that he excelled over on his last visit in August 2014.

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