Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 24 February 2018

The Cheka to make class count

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

THE CHEKA is the sole overseas raider at The Curragh this afternoon ahead of the onslaught of 10 English-based runners that are declared for tomorrow's programme at headquarters.

Eve Johnson-Houghton's five-year-old was beaten a short-head into second by Lolly For Dolly in a similar race to today's seven-furlong Group Three Minstrel Stakes over course and distance back in April. He has continued to perform well since then, scoring at this level at Haydock on his penultimate start.

If The Cheka can reproduce that kind of form now, he ought to be very hard to beat under Tom Queally.

Of his seven rivals, there would be few more popular winners than Cecil Ross' Six Of Hearts.

The seven-year-old has been a revelation since joining Ross' modest Mullingar outfit three years ago. On his most recent outing, Six Of Hearts landed the competitive sprint handicap on Irish Derby weekend off a career-high mark of 102, a standard of effort that gives him a real chance of winning for a 10th time.

Future Generation is another admirable sort.

Ger Lyons' three-year-old ran badly last time, but she had won three of her last four prior to that, including twice in two starts at The Curragh. Her prominent style of running will ensure this is a proper test.

The day's nap selection is Fountain Of Honour in the 10-furlong maiden. Aidan O'Brien's Cherokee Brave, just denied at Leopardstown last week, will be popular in this, but Fountain Of Honour's latest run was full of encouragement.

While the Sadler's Wells filly was beaten comprehensively on her debut back in April, she left that behind to finish a staying-on second here at the beginning of June.

Having raced in mid-division early on, it took a while for the penny to drop before she picked up gamely in a race that has since worked out well.

Also fancied to take plenty of beating is Bahama Spirit in the concluding nursery. Third and fourth on her first two starts, Kevin Prendergast's Invincible Spirit filly completely dominated a decent maiden at Fairyhouse last week.

The handicapper is taking no chances by putting her in here off 84, but Samantha Bell's 7lb claim is a valuable allowance. Jim Bolger's Tarcisio, a narrow winner at the second time of asking at Limerick in June, is another that should figure.

Earlier, Madeira Classic is taken to belatedly justify the heavy support that saw him backed into favouritism on his handicap debut at Leopardstown in March.

Christy Roche's three-year-old was outpaced over 10 furlongs, so the step up to a mile and a half in the Liam Browne Lifetime Achievement Handicap should suit.

Irish Independent

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