Expect Landofhopeandglory to improve from fencing debut
LANDOFHOPEANDGLORY has his second run over fences in tonight's novice chase at Kilbeggan.
One of the high-profile Ballydoyle recruits for Joseph O'Brien, the four-year-old was an early-season favourite for the Triumph Hurdle and finished an honourable fifth in the Cheltenham juvenile championship before taking second place behind Bapaume in a Punchestown Grade One.
He didn't exactly look a natural when fourth on his fencing bow at Roscommon a fortnight ago, with reopposing stablemate Aspen Colorado a place behind him, and the Gordon Elliott-trained third Potters Point is also among his rivals again. He was a bit sticky over his fences early but will have learned plenty from the experience and a more fluent display of jumping can be expected.
Willie Mullins saddles Dicosimo, who has plenty of experience to call upon but seems vulnerable to less exposed types and was behind yet another contender for this heat, the Mouse Morris-trained Alamein, at Fairyhouse in February. Alamein might be the one to test Landofhopeandglory at this difference of 19lb with the four-year-old.
O'Brien pitches Zig Zag in against his elders again in the two-mile-three-and-a-half furlong handicap hurdle on the back of a decent effort to chase home the smart Dandy Mag at Ballinrobe.
This is not as competitive as befits a €25,000 event with a ceiling rating of 140, with fellow four-year-old Lachares, last-start Tipperary scorer Petuna and the ever-reliable Jaime Sommers just three others to consider. Zig Zag has conditions to suit and should go close.
No less than six of the 10 runners in the extended three-mile novice hurdle arrive on the back of winning form but the one they all have to beat might be Miss Sapphire.
The Willie Mullins-trained mare has a Wexford win sandwiched by two defeats to Dont Kick Nor Bite, and she was third to Fayonagh in a Listed bumper earlier in the year. Pretty smart form and she might prover too good for another mare Kings Dolly and last month's Limerick winner Mr Showtime.
On what could prove a good afternoon for owner JP McManus, Joseph O'Brien will be hoping that Monarch, with second-placed efforts at Listowel and Punchestown recently, can make it third-time lucky in the opening maiden hurdle. The Galileo four-year-old probably has Cinema De Quartier, beaten some 11 lengths when runner-up behind Lac Kivu at Punchestown, to beat.
The aforementioned Dont Kick Nor Bite goes back over fences in the two-and-a-half mile handicap chase where veteran Old Supporter, Mitebeall Forluck and topweight Black Zambezi should also feature prominently.
The three-mile Greville Arms Hotel handicap hurdle is divided into two maximum sized fields. Courtin Bb, Milestone Prince and Clonleney should feature in the first half, while the McManus colours should be successful on point-to-pointer Pass The Ball in the second division. Niall Madden trains this one, third in Punchestown's Bishopscourt Cup and winner of two point-to-points since.
Years ago, when I was interested in the point to points, I reckoned that a winning pointer with a rating of 78 would invariably win a bad handicap chase or hurdle on the racecourse. Things have changed in that sphere. But Pass The Ball, eased down from 92 to 85, has to be a serious contender here. One Can Cally and Righty Rue are two others with chances.
In the bumper there are a few newcomers that might be of interest including Anytime Now, Flying Home and Getaway Rose, but Motcomb Street, fourth in a Doncaster bumper last November, should win for Shark Hanlon.
5.55 Miss Sapphire
6.25 Zig Zag (Dbl)
7.00 Courtin Bb
7.30 Pass The Ball
8.30 Don't Kick Nor Bite
9.00 Motcomb Street
5.25 Cinema De Quartier
5.55 Kings Dolly
7.00 Milestone Prince
7.30 One Can Cally
8.30 Old Supporter
9.00 Flying Home