Minella for Value can reverse form with Sizing Solution at Listowel
WITH rain forecast for last night, ground conditions were expected to ease for this afternoon's all-National Hunt second stage of Listowel's Bank Holiday meeting.
Eight races, too, with the worst of the handicap hurdles divided.
The €27,500 handicap chase is the top prize on offer and has attracted a 16-runner line-up.
Top weight is ex-hunter chaser Hurricane Ben, whose latest success was at the Fairyhouse Easter meeting where he trounced Don't Touch it by eight lengths in a €50k novices chase when making all.
Raised 9lb for that, he couldn't confirm that form with the second subsequently when they met at Punchestown. He's a stiff enough task here off the same 145 mark and the size of the field hardly plays to his strengths but he can't be ignored.
Polidam represents Willie Mullins and was an expensive flop on his Irish debut at the Punchestown Festival. Sent off a 7/4 favourite he made mistakes and was a spent force after two out. The handicapper left him alone. Maybe we should do the same.
Three that interest me are course winner Deans Hill – not seen since Cheltenham behind Tully East – recent Ballinrobe hurdles winner Ronava and Peoples Park – fourth behind Sizing Granite at Punchestown, and seemingly the fancied one of the McManus trio here.
The hunters chase is the only other chase at the meeting and this looks a match between Jim Dreaper's Sizing Solution and Minella for Value. We went the right way at Killarney when Sizing Solution was the value. On 3lb better terms and with a first-time visor, Minella For Value can overturn that length-and-a-half verdict.
Mullins has chances in both the maiden hurdles with imports. In the opening mares' race he relies on Law Girl, plenty of French Flat form but apparently making her jumping debut. Course winner Lakemilan and Penny Jane are probably the dangers.
Joseph O'Brien hit form here yesterday and runs two in the John B Keane Hurdle, with Monarch, a one-time 97-rated on the Flat at Ballydoyle, looking the fancied one.
Uradel is a German-bred six-year-old beaten twice over hurdles at odds-on before his Fairyhouse third behind Officieux and Hostile Fire at Fairyhouse in January . Monarch should be able to take this.
Bitsandpieces, Plain Talking and Conduct Yourself are all of interest in the three-mile Old Weir handicap Hurdle, a contest 32lb superior to either of the legs of the divided race.
Whoyakidding and Millen Dollar Man appeal in the first half of this two-and-a-half miler with a much more open second division looking to concern Seaboard, Grey Mountain Mist, Ted Bach and likely favourite Lash It On.
1.50 Law Girl
2.55 Millen Dollar Man
3.25 Lash It On
4.25 Peoples Park (Dbl)
5.00 Minella for Value (Nap)
5.30 Fabulous Saga
3.55 Conduct Yourself
4.25 Deans Road
5.00 Sizing Solution
5.30 Mischevious Max
COURSE form is often a big plus at Gowran Park and Niven looks capable of getting back to winning ways at the Kilkenny track today.
He hasn't won since defying a penalty here last April and in doing so was recording a quick follow up having won at Limerick a few days previously.
Obviously, the handicapper didn't take too kindly to that and he struggled off marks of 81 and 80 subsequently.
He has dropped back down to 69 now, however, and looks well placed to strike off that kind of rating.
Ken Condon's charge ran well when tried in a visor for the first time at Killarney last time, finishing a fine fourth after being in with every chance a couple of furlongs out.
He drops back in trip now to the distance that he won over here last year and the ground also looks to be coming right with showers forecast.
All his three wins have come in testing ground and every drop of rain that falls will be to his advantage today.
Heartful would look an obvious threat, having stayed on well to finish second here last time, but the yard's runner have been a bit hit and miss so far this season.
Trainer Paddy Meany trains just up the road from Gowran Park and has a terrific record at the track.
Belclare Boy has already struck this year for the yard and will be strongly fancied to follow up in the second division of today's apprentice handicap.
He blew away his rivals over slightly further when making all here at the last meeting and if he repeats that performance a 10lb hike won't be enough to stop him following up.
Meany also saddles two runners in the first division of the race including course specialist Enough Is Enough, who scored four times at the venue last year.
She hasn't shown much sparkle in two outings this term, however, and preference is for the Richard O'Brien-trained Alans Pride.
He just gave way in the closing stages after helping to force a strong gallop here last time and kicking for home turning in.
If they hold on to him a bit more this time he looks capable of landing a race off his current mark on the turf.
Grey Waters is another who should be able to win off her current rating after chasing home the progressive Winginit at Leopardstown last time while seven-furlong specialist Have A Nice Day can follow up his comeback success at Naas later on the card.
1.35 Gloves On
2.35 Grey Waters (dbl)
3.05 Niven (nap)
3.35 Alans Pride
4.05 Belclare Boy
4.40 Have A Nice Day
5.10 Music Box
2.05 Grey Willow
2.35 Les Arceaux
3.35 Rockview Emperor
4.40 Club Wexford
5.10 Dawn Of A New Era