Sport

Golan can occupy the heights

Gary Carson

BARRY CONNELL paid big money for Golantilla a few years ago and has seen a poor return on his investment so far from the lightly-raced gelding.

The seven-year-old has shown glimpses of serious ability though and is an intriguing runner on the final day of the Killarney festival as he tackles fences for the first time. It all started so well as he finished third in the Cheltenham Bumper on his first start for Connell, but he has had an interrupted career since then.

His hurdling form last season was pretty good and he did finish third in Grade One company, albeit in a weak enough race for the top level. The final outing at Naas in March was a fair enough effort but still short of what was expected.

As a former point-to-pointer, chasing was always likely to be his forte in the long term and it’s make-or-break time this season. He has been switched to Connell’s retained trainer Alan Fleming over the summer and the pressure will be on to produce him spot-on for his chase debut.

It’s not a bad beginners’ chase for this time of year and there looks a couple of decent sorts in opposition.

A Sizing Network only got as far as the second on his chase debut at Ballinrobe but can be expected to come into his own over fences. His owners love to have winners at this track and the five-year-old has the scope to make into a nice chaser.

Coffee was a smart sort over hurdles in England last year and connections will be hoping the switch to the larger obstacles can spark some life into him after he lost his way over timber.

One horse who has been transformed over fences after disappointing previously is Akorakor and he can land the feature event on the card. Since switching back to Gordon Elliott he has gone from strength-to-strength and was on a hat-trick at Kilbeggan going into the competitive Midlands National.

He was in the process of running a cracker and still had every chance when unshipping Kevin Sexton at the last. That was a big effort on his handicap debut and, off just a 2lb higher, he looks capable of landing a nice pot.

There also looks potential for more improvement from Valyssa Monterg who swooped to score at Galway last time. The lightly-raced mare didn’t get the most fluent jump at the last then when starting her charge, but was well on top at the line and was good value for her two-and-three-quarter length success.

Sandymount Duke is having a terrific campaign and can make it five in the novice hurdle while Colour Squadron looks a class act in the two-and-a-half mile beginners’ chase.

 

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