Wednesday 17 January 2018

Venalmar can get Morris' double assault off to flier

Damien McElroy

Fethard trainer Mouse Morris will be hoping to reward two of his principal patrons at Fairyhouse this afternoon when both Punchestown winner First Lieutenant and Galway beaten favourite Venalmar resume in conditions that are now odds-on to be quite demanding.

The ground at the Meath venue was already riding on the soft side before further heavy showers materialised during the afternoon and the runners in the opening pair of Beginners Chases, particularly the three-miler, face a real test of their courage and stamina.

Venalmar can be expected here to compensate Morris and Cork owner Michael O'Flynn, whose recent dual scorer China Rock will be tackling Kauto Star at Down Royal on Saturday, for failing to cope with Jessies Dream and Corkskeagh Royale last Monday week.

That Beginners Chase in Ballybrit looked way above average and Andrew McNamara's mount can crown his comeback from injury by defeating seasonal debutant Quadrillon in a race which the Morris yard captured 12 months ago with Baily View.

Then it's the turn of First Lieutenant in champion owner Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud colours to bid for a fourth victory from five starts as Davy Russell takes over the reins from McNamara for the Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle.

This Presenting gelding relished stepping up to two and a half miles at Punchestown three weeks ago and is bound to be a strong market order to follow up even allowing for the fact three of his rivals likewise won over timber last time out.

The season's leading trainer-jockey combination of Gordon Elliott and Paul Carberry could round off the Jackpot in the Tote Trifecta Rollover Handicap Hurdle despite Fool's Wildcat's 9lb penalty for last week's Punchestown defeat of Bale O'Shea.

The Tom Mullins-trained Alderwood in the JP McManus silks is the nap selection though to make amends for his fourth placing behind Shuil Sheeran at Navan, where the Alderbrook gelding started favourite in late September.

Alderwood's partner Patrick Mullins succeeded for his father Willie aboard Killultagh Queen in last year's renewal and he could find point-to-point record breaker Derek O'Connor his main danger now on Michael Hourigan's Bob Back-sired newcomer Painted Canyon.

Irish Independent

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