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It’s been a week to raise the spirits if ever there was one. There was some stirring action on the track in Cheltenham, the sun shining, and to cap it all off the Irish Flat season kicks off in the Curragh on Sunday.
There are no stakes races, but it’s not a bad card. Duke Of Mantua could well be a stakes horse and he heads the weights for the Madrid Handicap. I suppose we must be conscious that the Ballydoyle horses can be vulnerable on comeback.
This horse should prove a class apart though and he should be a short price. Despite the recent spell of fine weather, we’re looking at testing ground.
We get another extra place in the Ulster National and last year’s winner SPACE CADET looks sure to go well. His trainer Gearoid O’Loughlin has probably been working back from this valuable prize for some time.
He had a hack round over hurdles in January before putting in a solid shift over the banks in Punchestown last time. Significantly, the blinkers which he wore when winning this race last year were left off for those two runs, but they’re back on here. The horse is a year older and 4lbs higher granted, but he did seem to relish the stamina test on this idiosyncratic track though. That counts for plenty here.
Paddy Power not only sponsor the Irish Lincoln, they also give us an extra couple of places to play with. CASANOVA is of interest here. This horse reached a good level in eight starts for John Gosden. He did this despite a tendency to run keenly in his races. The horse must have had a problem as he missed all of last season. Ado McGuiness picked him up for £15,000 at the sales. He has done really well with recruits in recent years.
This horse showed plenty of promise on his Irish debut in January. He was again too keen but Colin Keane did get cover. The horse stuck on well for third. That experience should help on Sunday. He races from a handy looking mark on Sunday. He’s proven on soft ground, and should get a decent pace to run at. He races off a mark 5 pounds lower than when fifth in a red hot Ascot handicap in 2019. All the ingredients look in place for a big run.
This mile handicap is highly competitive and I can’t resist a small tickle on WE’LL GO AGAIN. This horse is a model of inconsistency, but he does have a decent strike rate though. He races here off the same mark as when second behind a well handicapped sort in Galway last October.
He didn’t show much on a recent spin over hurdles and that run will have sharpened him up fitness wise though. He’s drawn wide on Sunday, but is quite a fizzy sort in the preliminaries and it may be no harm to see him drop in off the pace. Given the horse’s patchy profile, I will play win only despite the extra place on offer.
I’m hoping that Andrew Kinirons has a good day on Sunday and MARY SALOME looks to have a race in her off a mark in the low 70’s. She was rated in the mid 80’s two years ago and she seems to go well at the Curragh.
Her last run came at the course and she finished a close up sixth. There are a few negatives and I don’t know anything about the jockey, but I’m of the opinion that a 10lbs claim is almost always valuable. #
It’s a huge weight allowance, but perhaps the lack of a recent run is more of a worry. This mare doesn’t have a great record fresh, however she’s likely to be a big price though. Big enough for me to take a chance, that for sure.
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