Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Versatile Missunited to pass 'student day' exam

Robbie Power and Missunited on their way to winning Galway Hurdle Handicap at Ballybrit
Robbie Power and Missunited on their way to winning Galway Hurdle Handicap at Ballybrit

Richard Forristal

Limerick's student race day was the original of the species that spawned a multitude of copycat promotions – and such has been the incredible continued success of the innovative Munster venue's own venture that it has now grown into a two-day bash.

Last week's Leopardstown student day saw an incredible 11,000 college-goers come through the gates, and general admissions for this afternoon's Flat spread in Limerick are long sold out.

Those are staggering realities that not only put regular attendance figures to shame, but also those of many showpiece Flat meetings at the Curragh and Leopardstown, both of which could only dream of not having tickets available for sale on the day come their inaugural autumn Champions Weekend.

The masses that pay in today – the traditional programme devoted to students prior to yesterday's newly-fashioned first leg – will be privy to the eagerly-awaited return of the talented Missunited in the conditions race.

Racing fans that were in attendance a year ago will notice that Ballydoyle's El Salvador is bidding for back-to-back wins in the concluding 12-furlong contest.

However, Missunited, one of two high-profile stars of Mick Winters' modest Co Cork stable, blossomed into a serious operator last year, recording a famous Galway Hurdle triumph before signing off with a remarkable effort to be placed in the Group One Prix Royal-Oak at Longchamp.

Seamie Heffernan's mount is one of the most versatile mares we have seen for some time, and she receives two pounds from El Salvador here despite being rated two pounds superior.

Jim Bolger's weekend debutant scorer Cosmic Cannonball completes the small field, but Missunited should be capable of getting her campaign under way in style.

The Islander, Aidan and Joseph O'Brien's only other representative, can improve for his recent bow to take the six-furlong maiden, while the in-form Dermot Weld can land the nap with Waaheb in the longer edition.

A triple bumper and dual hurdle winner, JP McManus' seven-year-old was second to the champion hurdler Jezki in Grade One company as a novice. Pat Smullen's mount has a touch of quality, which, certainly at face value, is far more than can be said for his opposition.

Winters, meanwhile, says he's hoping for an improvement in the weather as his other stable star, Rebel Fitz, continues his preparation for the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse on April 20.

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