Tom McCourt's Stars can help King reign at Dundalk
Connor King held his own through what might be termed the difficult second season this year, but he will be anxious to recapture the magic of 2013 during the fledgling winter series at Dundalk.
Following last year's fantastic final haul of 38 winners, the excellent 18-year-old bagged 22 wins in a campaign that inevitably saw his early momentum impeded by his Leaving Certificate examinations.
King finished a perfectly respectable third in the apprentices' table behind Colin Keane and Leigh Roche, and the three-pound claimer has five decent rides at the all-weather facility tonight, having promptly got off the mark there a week ago.
His two latter mounts, Kiss The Stars and Oceania Queen, might be the pick of his bookings. The Tom McCourt-trained Kiss The Stars contests a €10,000 seven-furlong handicap after filling the runner-up berth on its last two outings.
It is a competitive nine-runner heat that features the recent course winners Whaileyy and Ask Dad, which is seven pounds worse off having failed to take advantage of a five-pound penalty here on Friday on the back of his ready win two days earlier. Kiss The Stars' 2013 Cork success is the only time that she has won in 18 outings, but she has been running consistently well since the middle of the summer.
In seven starts during that time, she has been second three times, including on both of her most recent visits to Dundalk. She got to within a length of the classy Slipper Orchid in a decent handicap over this trip last month, before proving one-paced when second to Kernoff over six next time.
A six-pound ratings drop in the meantime is at the more generous end of the handicapper's annual wholesale deflationary review, so Kiss The Stars is trusted to make the most of the opportunity. King also gets the nod to score on Pat Martin's similarly dependable filly Oceania Queen in the 10-furlong finale.
Minot Street, which Oceania Queen finished third to last month, is on duty in the preceding 12-furlong affair. John McConnell's four-year-old has since been third and won again off higher ratings, and he is up another 11bs here.
That might stall his progress, but such was the authority with which he won last time that he is hard to oppose for now under the two-pound-claiming Tom Madden.
Mick Halford can continue his irresistible track form with Wychwood Warrior in the colts' maiden, while in the fillies' edition Ger Lyons is responsible for the nap, Plus Ca Change. Halford's Maira is the chief danger after finishing second here last time.
However, Plus Ca Change's debut fifth to Tamadhor at Leopardstown in September appeals as the more robust line of form. The winner has since been second to The Great War in Listed company, with the runner-up Stellar Glow and the third Bocca Baciata also doing plenty to advertise the race's worth.
Plus Ca Change will doubtless need to improve, but she certainly has the scope to do so under Keane.
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