A bank holiday double for Irish race fans. Today’s meeting in Wexford passed an inspection. With a dry forecast, it seems highly likely that tomorrow’s card will go ahead too. Galway faces no such worries. The ground at both venues will be testing in the extreme.
The M.W.Hickey Memorial Chase in Wexford (3.10 pm) is the highlight. Only four line up but the track should be happy with the calibre of runner. My hunch is that Champagne Classic, in receipt of five pounds from Discorama and with the benefit of a run, will go off favourite.
Kupatana is an interesting recruit for the De Bromhead stable. The ground may not be ideal. She also shoulders a penalty so is passed over. In spite of his penalty, and at the likely prices, Discorama rates the selection. This horse had a fine novice chase campaign. He showed admirable fortitude in bouncing back from a grueller at the Cheltenham Festival to chase home Delta Work in Punchestown. He also has a fine record fresh.
One would imagine that Paul Nolan will have him primed for such a prestigious, local race. His stamina should be a big asset for this test.
The beginners chase (3.45 pm) looks a decent race. Star Max, in receipt of the valuable four-year-old allowance, looks worth chancing. This horse had a productive juvenile hurdle campaign. That was in spite of the fact that he was a clumsy jumper.
He’s a big scopey sort, and it’s to be hoped that he will show fences greater respect. The ground could also bring about improvement. He won a flat race on deep ground in Germany. That was in keeping with his pedigree. Unfortunately, there was virtually no testing ground available last season. He wasn’t far off the best of these over hurdles, and I’m hopeful tomorrow’s conditions will prove optimal.
Unexposed three-year-olds in handicaps are inclined to catch the eye. L’empathie in the 3.30 pm Galway has caught mine. This filly built on a promising Killarney debut, by winning next time up in Listowel. Her first venture outside the Kingdom can yield further success. The second and third in that Listowel race have won since.
The manner of that victory was noteworthy. She took up the running a long way out.
Despite seeming clueless in front, she stargazed her way home. I’m a big fan of her sire Champs Elysee. His stock tend to do very well with time and distance. L’empathie can shrug off an opening mark of 78 here on her way to bigger and better things.
Ozone is another three-year-old. He looks a big slow boat. The conditions for the 4.05 pm race should suit slow boats. Both his seasonal bow in Killarney, and latest third in Navan suggested a mark of just 50 is exploitable.
Unfortunately, his more disappointing efforts have coincided with slower ground. It’s a small sample though, and I’m hoping it’s a coincidence. His pedigree would certainly offer hope that he’ll handle deep ground. The drop in trip probably isn’t ideal but tomorrow’s race will present a serious stamina test. Despite the ground concerns, he’s worth chancing off an appealing mark.
Finally a couple of shorties for your multis. Shumaker (2.00 pm Wexford) should complete a quick hat trick. He beat an unexposed sort very snugly last time out. A seven-pound rise is unlikely to be enough to stop him. Mazara (12.40 pm Galway) looks a good thing. She’s already run to the level required here on her debut in Naas. That performance was full of promise, and her pedigree screams deep ground.