5.10 Guinness Handicap Hurdle (2m)
Henry de Bromhead, fresh from success in the Plate here earlier in the week, has obvious claims of another win courtesy of the improving Riviera Sun, who looks likely to get the run of things from the front against a field comprising of hold-up types.
The one runner in the field who might spoil that plan is Smiler, who hasn’t been effective on the all-weather of late, but did make all to win a C&D handicap in October, and can be expected to revert to forcing tactics back in this sphere.
The booking of young Jack Kennedy is a significant plus, and he just shades the verdict in the battle for early dominance which might prove pivotal in deciding the outcome.
Tandem cannot be ignored for leading trainer Dermot Weld, but Bank Bonus is opposable at this trip despite fiishing a good second here on Wednesday. Rupert Lamb caught the eye last time, but Ruby Walsh’s mount often spoils his chance by making mistakes, and can’t afford any lapses in jumping in this company.
Danger: Riviera Sun
6.15 Guinness Galway Blazers handicap Chase
Usuel Smurfer isn’t easy to predict, but he ran a cracker when runner-up in this contest a year ago, and looks well treated on a mark just 1 lb higher today. Shark Hanlon’s charge clicked at the first time of asking for Adrian Heskin at Leopardstown in December, and a break since disappointing there three weeks later may prove a blessing.
A rather fragile sort, he tends to go best after an absence, with form figures after a break of ten weeks or more in the last few seasons of 2121. He is sure to be primed to go one better than twelve months ago, and can turn the tables on Aranhill Chief.
The race is complicated by the fact that the market leader As de Pique looks destined to miss out as he’s only a reserve, and Devil’s Bride may inherit the mantle of market leader as a result. The so of Helissio shaped very well when second to the smart Rawnaq over hurdles recently, and is clearly capable of landing a prize of this nature.
The worry for him is that he’s fully effective at two miles, and while he stays further, may find the testing climb from the last getting to the bottom of his stamina reserves.
Selection: Usuel Smurfer (nap)
Danger: Devil’s Bride
6.50 Guinness Handicap (1m 3f 180y)
Clondaw Warrior heads the market here, but he drops back a mile in distance from his Royal Ascot Success, and that slog is hardly an ideal preparation for such a test. He’s still respected given his adaptability, but better value is available elsewhere, with Paddy The Celeb and Pivot Bridge both looking overpriced.
Paddy The Celeb arrives here on the back of a fine third in the Ladies’ Derby at the Curragh.
He finished ahead of Deor that day, and is now better off at the weights (even before taking Conor McGovern’s claim into consideration), so it makes no sense that he’s more that double that rival’s price with one firm in particular.
He’s proven on a stiff right handed track and on a sound surface, so there is no reason why he won’t give each-way backers a run for their money.
Pivot Bridge is a bit harder to make a case for, having disappointed at the Curragh last time, but he was never likely to stay that two mile trip on the Flat, and had looked at least as good as ever over hurdles prior to that.
The return to a mile and a half will suit, and while he’s not thrown in on form, is capable of going well at likely huge odds, so appeals as a saver.
I’ll Be Your Clown has seemingly turned the corner in recent starts having looked less than willing in the past, but he’s unproven beyond ten furlongs, and this isn’t the obvious scenario to test his stamina.
Selection: Paddy The Celeb (e/w)
Saver: Pivot Bridge