Fun in the Zun at Bellewstown - but Geraghty still a doubt

DEBUT DOUBT: Barry Geraghty remains hopeful of making his debut as retained jockey to leading owner JP McManus this weekend, despite being admitted to hospital with a kidney stone on Tuesday. The leading jockey – who was last week named as AP McCoy’s successor as McManus’s main rider – has been sidelined with a broken shinbone since March, but had been riding work before his latest setback
Neville Ring

BELLEWSTOWN stages eight races on a mixed card tonight, which includes despite three races which manage to garner just 14 runners between them.

The three-year-old sprint handicap has a €16,500 prize fund but no more than four trainers could express an interest in running.

Three of the quartet here ran in the same race at Leopardstown last week and top-weight Zunera should be able to confirm that form.

She went down by half-a-length to Ishebayorgrey and had both Sassy But Classy and Daisy Bell well held behind in fifth and sixth.

Given that she remains on the same terms with those rivals it’s hard to see them turning the tables.

The selection has plenty of toe so this fast five-furlong dash should prove no problem and she looks open to more improvement also.

The other contender, Coto, ran okay at Down Royal last time but looks like she needs to come down another few pounds to give her a winning chance in handicap company.

Lindenhurst only had one run subsequent to winning the 60-90 distance handicap last term but is sure to be well primed for a follow-up attempt given his trainer’s record at his local track. He carries 6lb more than last season but looked good value for that when winning in style 12 months ago.

Preference is for the unexposed Ballydoyle runner Sherlock Holmes however, who could be well treated on his handicap debut.

He made a promising debut at the Curragh last month and stepped forward nicely when winning with the minimum of fuss at Ballinrobe.

He beat a decent yard-stick in Pincode then and doesn’t look harshly treated considering there should be plenty of improvement to come.

But what really swings it for the Sherlock Holmes is the 15lb weight for age allowance which three-year-olds get from their elder in this one-mile-six-furlong.

Time For Mabel ran a decent enough race to finish third on his jumping debut at Kilbeggan but that wasn’t the strongest of contests and he may be best watched back on the Flat with the strength of his French form hard to weigh up.

Strandfield Lady hasn’t shone on her last couple of outings and needs to recapture her best.

In the Seamus Mulvaney Crockafotha Handicap Hurdle there’s an opportunity for Gordon Elliott’s Be Seeing You to rehabilitate his tarnished reputation.

He flopped at Roscommon less than a month ago under a 4lb fixed penalty for a Downpatrick success earned a few days previously. The handicapper had dished him 11lb for that northern success and he’s on that upwardly revised mark here.

But off bottom weight and with Jack Kennedy’s 7lb claim, he’s going to be popular in a race which mightn’t take a deal of winning.

Cristy’s Call was also a good winner at Downpatrick last month and has run well on the Flat since. He got 9lb for his victory but looked good value for it and is an obvious threat.

Pass The Hat looks on a decent hurdles mark compared to his chase rating but is hard to fancy given the way he was running before his break.

Zeb’s Fantasy should beat locally trained Idlers Dream in the opening two-year-old maiden while Jesmond Lodge might capitalise on the 13lb he receives from Moonmeister in the Wintergrass Novice Hurdle.

Elliott’s Disputed will be hard to beat in the concluding handicap hurdle.

Back Frost to bite at Tipperary

THERE are small fields in all bar the two 47-65 handicaps at Tipperary tonight, with Ballydoyle only sparsely represented on a weak card, with champion trainer Aidan O’Brien saddling lightly-raced Father Frost in the seven-and-a-half conditions race.

The son of Rip Van Winkle was last sighted finishing a very respectable ninth, beaten less than four lengths, in the Group Three Jersey Stakes at Ascot last month. 

He was perhaps a shade unfortunate not to finish closer that day, and he holds outstanding claims now dropped in class. He’s certainly the stand-out performer on the night’s card. 

Alkasser could provide stiff opposition though, and Dermot Weld’s charge returns fresh from a break having last been sighted in the Gladness Stakes in April.

The two-year-old fillies’ maiden features a few well-bred youngsters, none moreso than Dewdrop, who showed signs of greenness on her debut but the fact she still holds a Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes entry bodes well. 

The pick of the newcomers might be Dermot Weld’s Simannka, who is by Mastercraftsman and out of a half-sister to dual Derby and Arc winner Sinndar, and she is one to take seriously for powerful connections. 

But Jim Bolger’s Glamorous Approach and John Oxx’s Spartan’s Queen are another pair to be taken seriously in this seven-runner contest.


Racing Shorts

Mecca’s Missus made the most of her previous experience to register a deserved victory at the third time of asking in the Yorkshire Blue Maiden Auction Stakes at Thirsk yesterday.

Having finished second on both her previous starts, the Michael Dods-trained two-year-old showed plenty of speed to open her account in the six-furlong event.

Racing prominently from the outset, the 15-8 favourite eased past earlier leader Ada Misobel mid-race before needing only to be pushed out to score by a cosy length and a half from Popsies Joy.

Dods (pictured) said: “She is improving with each run. We thought she might want further but she keeps showing plenty of speed, however there is a lot of speed in the family.

“The first three were well clear and she had a good draw, which is important at Thirsk. She is very straightforward and will go on any ground.

“We will probably try to find a fillies’ nursery with her now and hopefully she will improve again.”

Michael Dods will make a decision in the morning over the participation of Mecca’s Angel in Saturday’s Coral Charge at Sandown.

The four-year old, winner of the Prix de Saint-Georges at Longchamp on her only start to date this season, was forced to miss her intended outing in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot on account of the quick ground.

With the going at Sandown currently described as good, good to firm in places, Dods has warned that unless any rain arrives ahead of the Group Three five-furlong contest, she is unlikely to take part.

Dods said: “She is in on Saturday and it might be a case of declaring in the morning and then making a decision. I don’t want to have another Ascot.

“They are calling it good but with the temperatures in the 30s, I can’t see it being genuine good ground however much water they put on it. Even if they get a thunder storm, it will only run off the surface.

“She is in good form and I would like to run her, but I can’t see the weather changing over the next few days.

“It was disappointing not to run at Ascot at the time but, at the end of the day, it was the right decision.”

William Muir intends to run Big Baz outside of handicap company by stepping him up to Listed level on his next outing.

The Lambourn handler is keen to give the five-year old the chance to shine at a higher level in a bid to leave behind his low-key performance in the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot.

Despite entering the mile handicap on the back of a victory at Nottingham, Big Baz finished tailed off, beating just two runners.

Muir said: “The ground was just too firm for Big Baz at Ascot.

“He travelled really well, but he had a bruised foot three days before the race and when he was asked to stretch I just think he felt it and he just didn’t run his race.

“We will give him a couple of weeks to freshen up then look at stepping him up for a Listed race.

“I have no doubt about him getting his head in front again.”


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