Tuesday 16 January 2018

Warcraft can gun down classy field

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

The Flat contingent gets a rest day tomorrow after a prolonged busy spell over the past few weeks, with Limerick and Bellewstown both staging full National Hunt cards.

While the latter venue brings the curtain down on its three-day July meeting with a family-themed afternoon, Limerick hosts an impressive on-course schedule.

In the Greenmount Annual Members Novice Chase, a number of the best summer novices put their reputations on the line for a €12,420 winner's pot. Cruising Katie, successful over course and distance in May, is among four last-time-out winners in the 10-runner field. Edward O'Grady and Andrew McNamara, who both lead their respective championships, are represented by the useful Warne, a faller here on his chasing debut. Lady Hillingdon is another seeking a first success over the bigger obstacles.

However, Warcraft, one of two Gigginstown Stud-owned runners, is expected to hold sway over Gordon Elliot's Mayo Abbey. While Elliot's charge, a good winner at Kilbeggan, has scope to improve on just his third racecourse start, Warcraft looked to have matured when winning at Clonmel, and his greater experience may count.

The www.tote.com Galway Plate Trial Handicap Chase that follows is equally competitive. Penny's Bill, which got off the mark over fences at the Munster track in May, might just have the class to follow up. Liz Doyle's 2009 Pierse Hurdle winner has been set a stiff task by the handicapper, but is unexposed over fences and impressed last time. Of the remainder, Tipperary winner Mister Bishop is interesting, while Davy Condon's mount Glacial Promise is another to consider.


Earlier, the nine-year-old The Fonze is fancied to complete a hat-trick of hurdle wins in the Adare Festival Weekend Hurdle, while Turf War looks the pick in the beginners' chase. Representing the same owner-trainer-jockey combination as Warcraft, the six-year-old will be better for his return to action at Tipperary in June.

At Bellewstown, the Michael O'Leary colours will again be prevalent, with Capitoline Hill and Grey Soldier both likely favourites for the champion jumps owner. Capitoline Hill, trained by Colm Murphy, will be hard to beat in the Glebe House Stud Maiden Hurdle, though Grey Soldier is opposable.

Elliot's five-year-old didn't jump brilliantly when turned over at odds-on at Roscommon recently, and Battlefront might be a better alternative. When victorious at Punchestown in April, Ted Walsh's charge won easily from out of the handicap off 112. Tomorrow, in his first handicap hurdle, Battlefront competes off just 105.

Walsh also looks to have the answer to the Elizabeth Jenkinson Memorial Novice Hurdle, in which he saddles the former Ballydoyle inmate Hail Caesar. A son of Montjeu, Alan Crowe's mount performed admirably when second on his jumping debut at Thurles in January, form that ought to be good enough.

Elliot, fresh from another superb week at Perth, has plenty chances. Prior to Grey Soldier's event, his slightly temperamental Russian War should benefit from the step up to three miles in the Grangeclare Paddocks-sponsored maiden hurdle.

Limerick selections

2.45 -- The Fonze

3.45 -- Turf War

4.15 -- Warcraft

4.45 -- Penny's Bill

Bellewstown selections

2.25 -- Capitoline Hill

2.55 -- Hail Caesar

3.25 -- Russian War

3.55 -- Battlefront

Irish Independent

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