Sport Horse Racing

Thursday 22 March 2018

Whozthecat to plunder prize for raiders

Ryan Moore has high hopes of some success at the Curragh over the weekend
Ryan Moore has high hopes of some success at the Curragh over the weekend
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

A total of nine English-based raiders tackle two races on tomorrow's Curragh spread and both contests are duly tipped to go for export.

The Rockingham Handicap is one of the biggest betting heats in the calendar and 23 contenders vie for this year's edition of the prestigious €100,000 five-furlong sprint.

With eight cross-channel hopefuls pencilled in, over a third of the field is charged with exporting the €60,000 winner's purse for a third time since 2008.

Of the eight, six represent three ex-pats, one of whom is former Thurles handler Daniel Mark Loughnane, the most recent emigrant and the man responsible for the 2009 Rockingham hero Just For Mary.

Having booked the unstoppable seven-pound claimer Connor King for bottom-weight Nafa, maybe that is the most dangerous of Loughnane's travelling duo. However, it is Dublin-born Declan Carroll's bang in-form Yorkshire stable that is fancied to plunder the valuable prize with Whozthecat.

A narrow winner over six furlongs at Doncaster in June, the son of One Cool Cat then found only Burn The Boats too strong in the big sprint here on Derby weekend, a turn that confirmed his potential in this sort of contest.

Moreover, having won five times over this minimum trip, the drop in distance should suit the mount of 10lb claimer Luke Leadbitter, who should be able to get a decent early position from a 16 draw that is closer to the favoured stands side than the inside.


If he does, the pacey Whozthecat can confirm placings with a number of his Derby weekend rivals.

Ado McGuinness' Bubbly Bellini, successful in this 12 months ago, was back in eighth that day, while Ger Lyons' Joe Eile was half-a-length behind the runner-up in third.

Both have chances again, though maybe the pick of the home contingent is Eddie Lynam's Yulong Baoju, which must defy a 12lbs hike after a deeply taking win here over this trip last month.

Lyons may take the Irish Field Grey Horse Handicap with the Emmet McNamara-ridden Toccata Blue, while the Kilboy Estate Stakes is the other contest up for export.

Michael Stoute's Dank faces seven locals in the nine-furlong Group Two, the pick of which may be Willie McCreery's prolific improver Fiesolana, twice a Group Three scorer in recent weeks.

Still, none of the septet are expected to have Dank's class. Having conquered the subsequent Curragh Group Three winner Chigun on her return at Newmarket, Ryan Moore's mount progressed past the Warren Place filly to be third to Duntle at Ascot, so she appeals as the class act on duty here.

Over jumps at Tipperary, Shadow Eile can add to the exploits of Irish Grand National-winning trainer Dot Love in the Grade Three Kevin McManus Bookmaker Grimes Hurdle.

Steps To Freedom will be popular on his switch back from chasing here, but Shadow Eile appeals as a more reliable option for Andrew McNamara if she handles the quick surface.

Champion jockey Davy Russell could bag a short-priced double on Gigginstown Stud-owned duo Make Your Mark and Far Away So Close in the respective conditions hurdle and chase, while the day's nap vote goes to Shake The Bucket in the beginners' chase.

Second at Wexford a month ago, the Madden family's versatile stable star ought to have a fitness edge over chief rival Sizing Symphony, which has been absent since December 2011.

Irish Independent

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