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Christmas action at Limerick gets underway on Saturday with a 2-mile maiden hurdle where PALM BEACH can give Joseph O’Brien an opening winner. Formerly trained by Aidan O’Brien, the son of Galileo won a flat maiden at Listowel in September with My Sister Sarah finishing fourth.
The Willie Mullins mare has since won a Listed mares’ hurdle at Limerick (off a rating of 141). That form reads well and following his debut second here earlier this month, the now J.P McManus-owned juvenile can give him a first of many expected winners this Christmas period.
I’m hoping JP McManus can find another St Stephen’s Day winner with the Jessica Harrington-trained GUIRI in this 2-mile handicap hurdle at Leopardstown. The five-year-old has a nice profile for this race, running off an official rating of 112 following his latest start at Gowran Park last month.
He wasn’t disgraced when fifth behind Make Good on his handicap debut in Kilkenny, with the winner bolting up when scoring again at Cheltenham earlier this month for John McConnell. It’s a competitive race as always, but the Harrington team knows what it takes to land this prize for McManus following victory with Thirsty Work (rated 113) at the time of scoring in 2016.
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It’s always worth watching both the John Jo Walsh and Eric McNamara runners at Limerick over Christmas, and TOMERIC looks interesting here on his handicap chase debut for the McNamara team. The five-year-old was third here at Limerick last Christmas over hurdles and despite showing little on three starts over fences to date, he can challenge off an opening chase rating of 100. The introduction of cheekpieces will help and any market support should be noted for a stable who won this race with Ponmeword in 2012.
The Joseph O’Brien team head into the Christmas period with their jumpers coming into form and I’m happy to take a punt on COLLINS in the last at Leopardstown. The four-year-old cost €115,000 and is a half-brother to Fantastic Spirit, who ran in the French Derby for Jean-Claude Rouget.
There are plenty in with chances here, but it should be noted that the O’Brien team dominated the bumper races in Foxrock last Christmas with Risk Factor winning this race. The Willie Mullins team has only won this bumper twice in 10 years and it’s not been the best of races for favourites (three in ten-years). All that means I’m happy to side against Cool Jet and look for some extra value with Collins.
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