Sunday 25 February 2018

Tavern Times can rediscover champagne form

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

The returning Tavern Times adds a touch of quality to tomorrow's busy jumps programme at Gowran Park.

Heavily backed when successful in a Fairyhouse bumper on his racecourse debut for Tom Mullins in October 2009, the Presenting gelding went on to finish fourth to Cue Card in that season's Cheltenham bumper. He subsequently disappointed in the Punchestown equivalent, and didn't have much luck in two hurdling starts last winter.

An early faller at Leopardstown at Christmas, a couple of sketchy jumps then cost him late on when he finished third in a decent maiden hurdle at Navan in January. However, Tavern Times travelled strongly on that occasion, and the defeat did little to dispel the theory that he is a horse that should win plenty more races.

Tomorrow's 20-strong Maiden Hurdle heat lacks another horse with the nap selection's considerable potential. Worldly Wise is probably the best of the remainder, but his record of 0-10 over flights doesn't inspire much confidence.

Tavern Times' jockey Davy Russell has a number of other useful rides on the eight-race card. God's County, his Ted Walsh-trained partner in division one of the two-and-a-half-mile maiden hurdle, could get the Youghal native's day off to a good start.

The consistent Seader is a live threat to God's County, while Roadtoabbeyfeale is another that could get involved. That one kept on to be fifth at Punchestown at the end of May, so he is unlikely to be too far away now that he steps up half a mile in trip. Still, God's County is fancied to have a touch more class.

A four-time winner on the Flat in France, the Gigginstown Stud-owned gelding didn't set the world alight with his first couple of starts over hurdles.

However, he really got the hang of it at Clonmel on his latest try, failing by just a neck to deny the useful Presenting Nama. With the subsequent easy winner Ordinary Man six lengths behind then, that piece of form reads well now.

Bingo Lady, second to Ordinary Man at Clonmel, should also go close in the second division of that maiden. Mighty Snazy and Auspicious Outlook are two others that have placed form but Kieren Purcell's mare is the pick of the bunch.

In the opening maiden hurdle, Robbie Hennessy's Mister First is expected to collect. The Trempolino gelding did a lot right when second to Eightybarackstreet at Clonmel last week, and may not meet one so good here.

Later on, Delphi Mountain should run a big race on its debut for Denis Hogan's up-and-coming stable in the Jack Duggan Memorial Handicap. A taking winner of a maiden hurdle at Wetherby for Hogan's Cloughjordan neighbour Charlie Swan back in October, the Oscar gelding is making his first appearance since then. A rating of 107 sees him get in off a featherweight 10st 2lb tomorrow in a heat that lacks strength in depth.

Irish Independent

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