Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Won In The Dark's turn of pace to halt Storm

Damien McElroy

Prolonged talks at the Labour Relations Commission, which are due to resume next Tuesday, led to yesterday afternoon's postponement of the strike threat hanging over tomorrow's two Irish meetings.

Contingency plans by the Turf Club to staff the Leopardstown and Clonmel fixtures with part-time and former officials if their permanent people took industrial action, might well have exacerbated an already contentious situation.

Now there should be every opportunity in the coming days for the Turf Club and their 32-strong team, members of the Mandate trade union, to resolve a dispute that would have done the image of the sport no favours.

Hopefully, we can get on now with the routine business of gearing up for the forthcoming exodus to Cheltenham, with a quota of the horses shortlisted to travel to the Cotswolds galloping after the Leopardstown meeting.

This traditional post-racing exercise tends to overshadow what goes on competitively earlier in the afternoon when punters on the lookout to cover their festival expenses may be tempted to open their wallets.

Regular investors who believe in relying on the ratings to highlight suitable wagers, even at rather cramped odds, might row in with both Won In The Dark (Ballsbridge Hurdle) and Tranquil Sea in the Newlands Chase.

Back in the groove at Punchestown recently, Sabrina Harty's diminutive stable star looks most likely of the seven remaining in the Ballsbridge Hurdle to benefit from the absence of Cousin Vinny and Loosen My Load.

This pair might not have quite measured up to Harty's charge, whose change of gear should see him account here for Bahrain Storm.

The conditions of the Newlands Chase, rescued from Naas, likewise identify Tranquil Sea as the horse to beat on his comeback after a break of over two months since losing over this route to Golden Silver.

That victor's champion trainer Willie Mullins, who took Barker, Scotsirish and Glencove Marina out of the Grade Two race, relies instead on veteran Snowy Morning as Tranquil Sea warms up for the Ryanair Chase.

With last year's winner, Carthalawn, and Aran Concerto out of sorts and Snowy Morning seldom hitting the target, Made In Taipan and Mansony rather than Aintree-bound Ballyholland may be the ones to test the favourite.

If performing to a level close to his current 157 rating, the prize should be destined for Andrew McNamara's mount, whose stable companion Sky's The Limit earlier tackles the Carrickmines Handicap Chase.


Likewise a Cheltenham winner in the past for Edward O'Grady, the French-bred grey shares top weight with Arbor Supreme in a Grade B race that could go instead to Naas winner The Bosses Nephew at the foot of the scale.

In contrast, topping the handicap for the Comeragh Hurdle at the rival Clonmel session may not prevent Macidoni and the in-form Conor Maxwell from augmenting their game Fairyhouse success for northern trainer Mervyn Torrens. This handler's long trek to the Tipperary course might be rewarded on the double if Down Royal casualty Quartetto manages a clear round this time for Michael Darcy in the Clonmel Beginners Chase.

Irish Independent

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