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Musharrif is an interesting runner here on his Irish debut having recently been purchased by James McAuley for just £2,500 at the Goffs UK December sale. The nine-year-old paid his way for Declan Carroll over several years, claiming a sole 2020 victory at Pontefract last September and comes here having finished second at Wolverhampton in November.
However, the high draw is a slight negative for me and I’m happy to side with THAT’S NOT ME for trainer Anthony McCann. This horse likes to race forward, the drop back to 5 furlongs looks ideal and the 7lb allowance of Siobhan Rutledge might be enough to see him dominate from the front from stall 5. Elsewhere, the inform Dandy Spirit comes here in excellent form having won back-to-back races over course and distance and races off a 12lb higher rating on Friday – has the handicapper got him now?
The James McAuley team saddle two ex-British trained runners here with Anjah, the mount of Kevin Manning, and Haayem, wearing cheekpieces for the first-time who is the mount of Colin Keane. Both runners are having a second Irish start having raced here in mid-December with very little between them on official ratings. Adrian McGuinness had a wonderful 2020 and his consistent runner RAPHAEL looks the one, with talented young jockey Gavin Ryan once again in the saddle.
The six-year-old won a mile handicap at Killarney last summer before securing another victory here at Dundalk in October – winning off a rating of 80 on that occasion. He wasn’t disgraced when finishing fourth in a bunch finish here in November, running off the same mark of 87, and a good draw in stall 1 will suit his forward racing style. Elsewhere, the other horses to watch are stablemate and reserve Paycheck (if getting a run on his Irish debut), and Knight Of Malta for Denis Hogan, who finished third here just before Christmas.
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This 6-furlong maiden looks an open affair on paper with plenty of horses with experience and solid claims for victory. Ferrybank has had plenty of chances for Ted Walsh around here with Haigney dropping in trip on return after finishing third on heavy ground at Limerick last October.
Joseph O’Brien runs two, while Landsowne runs on debut for last year’s winning trainer Michael Halford. Faraah was fifth on debut at Limerick last summer and returns for Adrian McGuinness with RAMON DI LORIA catching the eye for Tracey Collins and Colin Keane as an each-way selection.
The champion jockey has only ridden five horses for the Collins team without finding a winner, but that might change on Friday evening. There was a bit of promise on debut from this horse behind Charterhouse at the Curragh last August before finishing down the field at Cork afterwards. He returns to Dundalk having stayed on nicely for third under Ronan Whelan back in November and it’s very interesting that Keane is booked despite a poor draw in stall 17.
Joseph O’Brien won this staying handicap with King’s Vow last year and SCHOLASTIC looks the best of his three runners in my opinion. The son of Zoffany won a juvenile hurdle at Punchestown in September before chasing home Triumph Hurdle hope Quilixios at the same venue in October.
He’s been consistent on the level with Mikey Sheehy in the saddle again following his second place finish over course and distance in mid-December. He’s clearly on the shortlist to go close here in a competitive staying contest.
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