There’s sure to be plenty of support for Gavin Cromwell’s runners at Bellewstown over the coming days, given his array of winners at last year’s festival, and the Balrath trainer could finish where he left off with APRILS JOY.
A comfortable winner over hurdles at Kilbeggan on Monday evening, the daughter of Ask put all of her previous form behind her to register a first career victory and that leaves her on a hugely favourable mark for this 1m6f handicap on the Flat. With a NH rating of 109 prior to Monday’s success, you’d have thought she’s not going to get any better opportunities to win on the Flat with her current rating of 50. She must have every chance of doubling up for her in-form trainer.
Not many future Classic winners have made their debuts around Bellewstown and while that might not be the case here, it’s hard not to be drawn to TALACRE on her first career start. A full sister to Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Siskin, the daughter of Flintshire will be popular for obvious reasons and holds an entry in the Moyglare Stud Stakes later in the season.
It’s that high profile entry and the lack of quality in opposition which makes her most appealing here. Finest, Aidan O’Brien’s sole entry, has had two runs, when seemingly unfancied on both occasions, so the main danger to Talacre could come from another debutante in Pretty Gorgeous, who also holds an entry in the Moyglare Stud Stakes.
Since Irish racing resumed just over three weeks ago, only Ger Lyons has a better strike rate than Johnny Murtagh. That’s some achievement from the former champion jockey and had DALILEO got a clear run in Sunday’s 1m2f handicap at the Curragh, Murtagh might even have added another winner to his tally.
While finishing just over 5 lengths behind Njord in 10th position, don’t let that put you off as the son of Galileo got no run whatsoever before powering home in the final furlong. Stepping up to 2m here should be right up his street, a trip he finished second over last year, and the booking of Cheltenham festival winning jockey Maxine O’Sullivan is also a plus. Expect a huge run here.
The market is likely to suggest that Lilandra will make it second time lucky but judging by the debut of CLEAR QUARTZ at Tipperary, Ger Lyons’ filly might not have everything her own way. Backed from 150/1 to 9/1, Clear Quartz looked the most likely winner passing the 2f marker only to fade soon after. The drop back in trip is sure to give him a great chance of going close and combined with the fine form of Mark Fahey’s horses, he could be excellent value to upset the favourite.
All eyes will be on Rocky Blue here, who makes his return following a 555 days layoff. This is his first run since he landed the Grade 2 juvenile hurdle at the 2018 Leopardstown Christmas festival and on that form, he’d be well-in here. However, fitness must be a worry after such a long absence
One horse which won’t have any fitness issues is HARVEST BOW, who takes a drop in both trip and grade following a decent effort at the Curragh on Sunday. Against a much better standard than she faces here, she looked set to go close passing the 2f marker before stamina gave way. Back to 1m4f, she should take advantage racing off a favourable mark of 77.
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