Tuesday 12 December 2017

Off The Mark in Sligo mix

Off The Mark
Off The Mark

The Guinness Sligo Handicap Hurdle tops the bill if the seven-race jumps card gets the go-ahead following an 8am inspection.

Christy Roche is a man to have on your side at this venue, and he sends Off The Mark into battle for the two-and-a half-mile feature.

Barry Geraghty prefers this High Chaparral gelding to fellow JP McManus-owned runner Drumlee and it will be interesting to see what the market makes of him now, as he starts in handicaps from a mark of 119.

The well-bred sort is only a five-year-old, but he is smart on his day, including when victorious on his bumper debut at Leopardstown in March 2014. He followed that up with a second placing in a top event for youngsters at Limerick four weeks later.

Any of that may have limited relevance to the task at hand now for Off The Mark, but what it does demonstrate is his ability to handle testing ground. He finished last of four on his most recent outing, but after being beaten less than three lengths in a decent heat, the Roche runner arrives with definite claims.

As a winner just a fortnight back, Hurry Kitty must be respected, and several others line-up in good heart in a competitive heat. It fell the way of a McManus well-backed favourite 12 months ago in Give Me A Break.

Christy Roche gives Neddyvaughan his initial taste of action in the Sligo Maiden Hurdle, and this one catches the eye as a son of Female. That Saddlers' Hall mare won twice from seven outings for Roche, and she also came home in seventh place in the 2006 renewal of the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham.

Neddyvaughan is capable enough, but perhaps the four-year-old will benefit from this experience and the likes of Runyon Rattler look stronger.

The centrepiece of the evening is nicely backed up by the Martin Reilly BMW Dealer Hurdle. This classy five-horse affair should chiefly concern Renneti and Arnaud.

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