Ornua can see off Morgan to repeat Maze success at Clonmel
ONLY five runners in the two-mile-half-a-furlong conditions hurdle tonight and it looks a match between Ornua and Morgan. Ornua was a last-time-out winner when justifying favouritism at the Maze early this month, beating Vanishing Point by some five lengths. Ornua is a stable-mate of that runner-up, so Gordon Elliott must have a fair idea where he stands regarding Morgan's prospects. He might be rated 2lb inferior but I prefer the prospects of Ornua.
Mullins runs French import Lareena in the opening mares' maiden hurdle, placed second at Enghien and two unplaced efforts on the Flat. Gets weight all round, Ruby Walsh rides and she is put in at 4/6. Is She Diesel is the alternative.
The other maiden, over two miles and three furlongs, might go the way of Vanishing Point, beaten five lengths into second behind Ornua at the Maze and how that one runs in the second race might give a pointer to the Elliott runner here. Russell rides and they might have most to fear from Conna Cross and Aherlow.
Course specialist You Can't Catch Me is a four-time winner here, with his most recent success at the venue coming on the level earlier this month. He reverts back to hurdles now, and with the ground and trip to his liking, he has to be expected to go close. Zig Zag is serious contender for Joseph O'Brien. He was a decent ninth in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham in March, and was last seen finishing 12th in a competitive contest at Fairyhouse over Easter.
This looks a major drop in class for the son of Zoffany, and he should give a good account of himself. He ran off a BHA mark of 127 in the Cheltenham race and his Irish rating here is 116. The stable had a couple of winners at Killarney earlier in the week at big prices. Wexford scorer Jefferson Davis is likely to have supporters, while Tipperary runner-up War Of The Pennys is another leading contender.
The following Sliabh Na mBan handicap hurdle is a much lower class affair, as can be deduced by the fact that it attracts the maximum 18 runners, headed by recent Wexford fourth Rockey Storm which has a one-and-a-half length deficit to make up on second-placed Tintown Robin with 1lb to help him with the turnaround.
You can bring Bullowney into it after her fair effort when running a close third to Soul Season and The Irritator at the same Wexford meeting. The rest of them have little to boast about and you are taking on quantity over quality here.
The extended two-mile handicap hurdle, an 80-109 affair doesn't excite either. I thought Joseph O'Brien's Theydon Park could take a lot of beating after some respectable efforts in maiden company. The fact that Davy Russell rides the four-year-old affords a degree of confidence in his chance. Fiesole and Magnetic Force are obvious threats to their younger rival.
Noel Meade's Ladysingstheblues is preferred over the Mullins's runner Blixit in the 18-runner mares' bumper. Blixit is a beaten short-priced favourite on both her outings to date, at Wexford and Gowran and was beaten 28 lengths at the former track last month. Ladysingstheblues comes here with two nice winter Punchestown efforts to her credit. Favourite when beaten a neck by Fintara there in mid-January, this looks a real opportunity for her to make it third time lucky.
6.30 Theydon Park
7.00 Vanishing Point (Nap)
7.35 Zig Zag
8.10 Tintown Robin (Dbl)
5.30 Is She Diesel
7.35 you Can't Catch Me
8.10 Rockey Storm