Sunday 18 March 2018

Yellow Dandy holds all the aces for McAteer

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Bellewstown's hugely popular three-day July festival kicks off with a bumper eight-race Flat programme this evening.

Liam McAteer, who trains just down the road from the Crockafatha venue in Navan, saddles last week's Tipperary runner-up Yellow Dandy in the Essential Drogheda Magazine Handicap.

Despite going up two pounds in the weights for that quarter-length defeat to Jamesie, McAteer's Kheleyf filly is fancied to go one better now.

Of Yellow Dandy's six rivals, Foot Perfect and Natalisa ran in the same Limerick Junction heat, with Foot Perfect a couple of lengths to the good in the battle for fourth. David Marnane's filly is five pounds better off with Yellow Dandy now.

Natalisa is seven pounds better off but, as was the case last week, Yellow Dandy has the plum draw on the inside rail here. Around a tight track like Bellewstown, that can be crucial over five furlongs, and Pat Smullen's mount proved at Tipperary that she has the early pace to make the most of such an advantage.

Expire, successful at the 13th time of asking in a Naas maiden last week, faces a more difficult task off top weight in this, though Red Army Blues, runner-up that day, is interesting in first-time blinkers. Ger Lyons' gelding has also now gone 12 starts without winning, but is 11lbs well in with Expire here.

In the subsequent Beamish Inter Vintners Pub Challenge Race Nite Handicap, Queen Grace can build on some promising recent outings for Seamie Heffernan.

Big Bad Lily, third behind Yellow Dandy at Tipperary, also has a squeak in an open contest.

However, Queen Grace has been really progressive for Michael Browne. She followed two runner-up finishes with a third at Lingfield in early June, form that reads well now that the first, second and third have since won four times between them.

Tantalising, fifth behind Apache at Leopardstown in May, might improve enough to take the Patrick Tallan & Co Solicitors Maiden, while Fantasy King could deny the top-rated Salute Him in the Fast Shipping Ireland Qualified Riders' race.

A dual winner in 2010, Charles O'Brien's charge was a fair second on his reappearance.

Further south at Wexford, there is an equally busy jumps card.

The Galway Plate-bound Truckers Delight ought to have a big say on his return to fences in the conditions chase, with his rider Barry Geraghty also holding strong claims on Sallyanka in the mares' hurdle and The Baler in the handicap chase.

Irish Independent

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