Brendan Duke: Here’s 5 best bets for Gowran Park and Dundalk on Friday

It'll take more than Hurricane Lorenzo to knock Dukey off course.


Hurricane Lorenzo looks to be going relatively easy on the east of Ireland. Good news for race fans. Two decent cards on Thursday. The spidey sense of jumps fans must be tingling. Navan last weekend, a nip in the air and Gowran’s two day October fixture around the corner. A well-contested Listed race in Dundalk is the highlight of an interesting card.

We start in Gowran. Abacadabras is probably the star turn in the 2m Maiden Hurdle @ 14:40. He was a talented, if wayward, bumper performer. He also has plenty of physical scope. If mind and body develop, he looks a horse of serious potential. He should win. The bookies will be well aware of this fact about Gordon Elliott’s runner.


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One horse they may underestimate is John Halley’s Foreign Secretary in the 2m 4f handicap hurdle at 16:25. This regally bred horse was a late developer for Aidan O’Brien. After three runs he proved surplus to requirements. He had a reasonable winter in four starts for his new yard. He won at Limerick on the third of those runs, and backed that up with a close third at the same track.

We haven’t seen him since March. Gelded in the interim, he looks a horse with potential. That Limerick win worked out better than I expected. The handicapper seems to have taken a generous line in giving him a mark of 121. This step up in trip should help too. He looked a dour stayer when finishing a close second on his final flat start in Navan.

The absence is a worry. That Navan run came after a four-month break though. The horse certainly has enough going for him to justify support at what should be a nice price.

The 2m Listed Mares Hurdle at 15:50 looks a competitive affair. Some sort of case can be made for all the runners. I will take a chance on one of the probable outsiders. Jeremys Flame was a smart sort in bumpers. She’s a headstrong sort. Previously, connections let her roll from the front. They changed tack for her hurdles debut at Listowel.

Dropped right out she was still very keen. The jockey did all he could to keep her buried in behind runners. Despite all the wasted energy she showed her class by taking it up between the last two hurdles, and winning snugly.

Her jumping was in and out that day. Encouragingly she pinged the last two. It’s reasonable to assume that they are working on getting her to relax at home. Western Victory and Emily Moon should ensure a decent gallop If the techniques employed to curb her wilful nature are effective, the Flame looks a mare of some potential.

She’s worth supporting to find the necessary improvement here.

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For fans of short prices, Dundalk looks to provide a couple of solid options. Fort Meyers will take all the beating in the feature (18:45). Justifier remains an interesting prospect. He will struggle to concede weight to Aidan O’Brien’s reliable sort though.

It’s surprising to see Ger Lyons’ Marmolata in a 7f claiming maiden at 17:45. She has a decent pedigree, and plenty of potential after just two starts. The maiden she was an eye-catching third in last time couldn’t be working out better. I’d expect plenty of interest at the 20K price tag after she wins.

Title chasing Colin Keane looks to have a good book of rides, Kaftan is worth supporting to make class tell in the 7f handicap at 19:15. She was a close fourth in Listed company in Galway last time. Granted, they finished in a heap that day. The horses around her have gone on to give the form a solid-enough look. A 4lb rise in the handicap was arguably severe while a mile might be her optimum trip too. This race is loaded with pace though.

Expect Kaftan to finish fastest of all. That should prove decisive.


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Keane should also go close in the 12f handicap that closes the card at 20:45. Dalileo looks a progressive sort. I will take him on with Edification. This horse also looks progressive. That’s a bit counter intuitive. He’s a six-year-old with 33 career starts. He’s had a fine summer. He took his form to a new level last time when a luckless fourth in a valuable Leopardstown handicap. That day he was held up in a race where it paid to race handy.

To add insult to injury, he suffered interference when trying to make his run. He looked an unlucky loser to my eye. That finish featured two progressive three-year-olds, and a well-backed Willie Mullins inmate. He faces nothing of that calibre now. He was a 33/1 shot that day.

The bookies may see it as a fluke but I’ll take a chance that it wasn’t.

*Prices correct at time of publishing 

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What do you think?