Tuesday 23 January 2018

Zabana looks the Sligo banker

Trainer Willie Mullins
Trainer Willie Mullins
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Zabana is trusted to build on his encouraging recent hurdling debut by justifying nap status on tonight's modest National Hunt spread at Sligo.

A maiden winner over 12 furlongs on soft ground at Tramore for Ken Condon in the autumn, Andrew Lynch's charge raced prominently on his first start since then when initiating his jumping career at Limerick earlier in the month. He tired to finish a five-length third behind Band Of Blood, but should go very close in this evening's Brendan Morris Memorial Maiden Hurdle if he comes on for the outing.

Robbie Colgan's mount faces nine others in the two-mile affair, likely to take place on testing ground. Big Vincey and Sunsetstorise are the pick of the remainder, but neither is quite so progressive an option as Zabana.

Willie Mullins' On His Own is the star horse in attendance. Along with stablemate Twigline, he's among six in the featured All Sports Betting Tubbercurry Hurdle, a two-and-a-half-mile conditions race that, as a previous winner of the Thyestes Chase and Boyne Hurdle, he should not be hard pressed to claim under Ruby Walsh.

In the Ellen's Pub Maugherow Handicap Hurdle, Stop The Clock has an obvious chance on the back of her second at Ballinrobe last month, but Florimund appeals more. A three-time hurdle winner that has scored off 109 in the past, Michael Butler's 10-year-old was placed in a couple of fair contests at Navan in the spring.

He was then brought down two-out under the trainer's son and namesake at Fairyhouse when still in contention. Followmeuptocarlow obliged in what was a decent event on that occasion, and the suspicion is that Florimund's current rating of 103 is one that he can exploit against this lesser opposition.

In the bumper, Dot Love's Crofton Trail gets the nod under Stephen Crawford. A staying-on fifth behind Sunday's smart winner Tropical Three on her Punchestown bow last month, the Heron Island four-year-old will be suited by the testing going.

Irish Independent

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