Friday 24 November 2017

Tough Lady can make trip worthwhile for Oliver

Joseph O'Brien: Aboard Mekong River
Joseph O'Brien: Aboard Mekong River
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

TYRONE-based Andy Oliver makes the 260-mile journey to Listowel to saddle two live contenders this afternoon, with his Tough Lady appealing as a tentative nap selection.

Day two of the Harvest Festival's week-long jaunt matches yesterday's opening salvo for sheer depth of competition, as each of the seven scheduled races boast eight or more runners, and all bar one feature double-digit fields.

Such competitive fare is a tremendous boon for the north Kerry venue, though it makes the task of identifying winners especially challenging.

Tough Lady tackles the six-furlong handicap, having made a cracking bow for Oliver's Caledon stable at Galway last week.

On that occasion, she ran all the way to the line behind Harpist, holding off the persistent challenge of the reopposing Sword Of Light for second.

Given the manner in which she kept on, the drop to six furlongs here is a slight concern, but it is an extended six on slower ground and she travelled easily last week.

If she can build on that now, then, she ought to take plenty beating off a pound higher mark under Chris Hayes.

Oliver will also have a big say with the smart Roscommon scorer All Set To Go in the Irish Stallion Farms Premier Nursery.

However, the eight runners in this €30,000 contest have won 10 races between them, so it is going to take a useful two-year-old to emerge on top.

Ballydoyle's Mekong River might be the one to step up. Unbeaten in two after getting promoted in the Gowran Park stewards' room before following up at Killarney, he is 6lb higher here in first-time visors for the in-form Aidan and Joseph O'Brien axis.

The most interesting race on the mixed card is surely the ITBA Fillies' Scheme Hurdle.

A dozen useful mares are pencilled in here and there is no doubt that the classy Chiltern Hills, which readily disposed of the subsequent dual winner Cailin Annamh at Limerick in July, sets a tall standard for the all-conquering Willie Mullins-Ruby Walsh partnership.

Still, as a horse that took time to excel over flights, she may be vulnerable on this drop back to two miles, so Railway Zira is worth a look as an alternative.

Harry Kelly's Westerner five-year-old surged clear to win the second of three bumpers at Fairyhouse back in February.

Obviously, she has it to do here on her first try over sticks, but Kelly is a shrewd operator. He surely wouldn't set her such a daunting task if he didn't feel she would rise to it, and the suspicion is that she could go very close for Davy Condon.

Walsh gets the nod to take the subsequent handicap hurdle on Galloping Gander for Tony Martin.

While last year's Thurles beginners' chase winner is largely disappointing, his hurdle mark of 99 – 13lbs lower than his chasing rating – is one that he ought to be able to exploit.

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