There was the prospect of thundery showers at Leopardstown on Wednesday ahead of today’s eight-race card which includes a hat-trick of Group 3 races. The ground was described as good yesterday, but there is the possibility that conditions might ease slightly ahead of post time.
Joseph O’Brien saddled the second when Nickajack Cave won a listed race over 1m 6f here back in June, but I feel he may gain revenge over the Ger Lyons’ four-year-old today courtesy of Pondus (3.00) who did us a favour when winning a listed race at Roscommon last time on heavy ground. The runner up – Camphor – scored at Galway last week and the O’Brien horse is flexible regarding underfoot conditions.
It could be a good day for O’Brien as he saddles Thundering Nights in the contest for fillies who have yet to finish in the first three in a listed or Group race. The three-year-old ran a race full of promise on her seasonal reappearance in a handicap at the Curragh last month when runner up on rain-softened ground.
The vote, however, goes to Amma Grace (2.30) who is visored for the first time and looked ready for a return to 10f when fourth in a mile group 3 here last month. The well-bred selection won a soft ground maiden here back in October but was keen on her first start over today’s trip which has led to the application of the headgear this afternoon.
In the 2nd division of the 2m handicap hurdle at Stratford I hope to see the top-weights Glendun (6.50) go one better than when runner up at Southwell last month. The winner – Collodi – has since defied a 7lbs rise and the handicapper has seen fit to leave the selection on the same mark. James Eustace 6-y-old has only one career win to his name, and that was on the level, and has now finished second in his last three starts over timber, but I still feel he is capable of winning in this company.
The feature race is a terrific 2m 4f handicap chase with the 1-2 in the Summer Plate at Market Rasen reopposing with Fidux allowed 9lbs for the 5L he was behind the progressive mare Really Super in Lincolnshire. Both are respected, but Darling Maltaix (7.20) failed to get home over 3m against Young Wolf, who is rated 135, at Uttoxeter last time and this drop back in distance is considered a plus. The selection is not the strongest of finishers, but I believe there are races to be won with the seven-year-old from this mark.
It is never easy to defy a penalty in a Bumper but Beholden (8.20) really should have followed up his Newton Abbot debut success back at the Devon track when he jumped the path and lost momentum inside the final furlong. This is his third quick run which suggests connections feel he is ground dependent although he certainly has the scope to jump hurdles.
Olly Murphy had a four-timer on the opening day of the jumps season at Southwell, but he has been hitting the bar of late including with one of those quartet Hunter’s Call who finished fourth in the Galway Hurdle last week.
Another of those winners was St Gallen who reverts to the flat at Ripon this afternoon from what looks a favourable mark in the 12f handicap. The selection finished second on the all-weather at Kempton on his first start since a wind operation in June and a 2lbs rise looks fair. William Buick is certainly a positive booking.
The vote, however, goes to Competition (3.50) who met trouble in running and lost momentum at the wrong time when a beaten favourite at Bath last month when dropped to 10f. Today’s extra distance should suit, Ben Curtis takes over in the saddle and the 4/1 with William Hill looks fair.