Toccata Blue ready to extend Lyons purple patch
A WEDNESDAY double brought Ger Lyons' strike-rate to three wins from five runners over the past two weeks, and the leading Dundalk handler might add to that impressive ratio with tonight's nap selection, Toccata Blue.
One of just four to compete for a €13,000 purse in the mile handicap, the Verglas grey has been a fine second on his last two starts at the all-weather track.
His latest defeat behind the bang in-form Rummaging over seven furlongs was the pick of those, with the third, stablemate Queen Of The Sand, going on to collect for a second time in three starts on Wednesday.
The fourth, Cottrell, also won in good style two days ago, so the form of the race looks especially robust.
Like Queen Of The Sand and Cottrell, Toccata Blue is a three-year-old that remains open to further improvement, so he appeals as being well equipped to cope with a modest 1lb hike in the ratings, as he gets in here off just 8st 7lb under Niall McCullagh.
Seanie is the obvious danger, having denied fellow David Marnane-trained Jamesie in convincing fashion over seven furlongs last month. He is a decent benchmark performer at best, but appears slightly more exposed than Toccata Blue off a 5lb higher mark.
Another handicapper fancied to confirm his current well-being is Pat Martin's Gun Shoot in the extended 10-furlong handicap.
Successful off 59 in September, Conor Hoban's mount lost little in defeat when nosed out by Home Secretary off 67 earlier in the month.
Since then, the third Ned's Indian has come out and won, yet Gun Shoot is effectively 5lb better off with him here. With that in mind, he should go close again under Hoban.
Martin and Hoban might bag a brace with Vote Of Confidence in the concluding handicap. An authoritative victor here on his handicap bow for Andy Oliver in October, the big three-year-old was then led out of the sales unsold, having generated a bid of just 3,500 guineas.
Martin has acquired him in the meantime -- presumably for modest money -- and Vote Of Confidence is trusted to live up to his name under a 5lb penalty.
In the penultimate maiden, the festively-named Hoe Hoe can score for Takashi Kodama and Fran Berry, after an eye-catching debut forth here earlier in the month.