Another Friday night card at Dundalk awaits so we have another Friday night set of selections from our regular and popular racing pundit, Alan Marron.
There’s an eight-race card to look forward to on Friday February 7th, starting at 5pm.
As usual, we have EXTRA-PLACE RACES available on the meeting (and elsewhere)…
5.00 INJUREDJOCKEYS.COM CLAIMING RACE 7F
This race looks a trappy start to a competitive card but I am willing to give the Joseph O’Brien-trained CAPTAINOFTHEBOUNTY (12/1 as at 9:50am on Friday) another chance dropped in grade with cheek-pieces applied.
He was sent off as the 9/4 favourite on his first run for the stable, where he finished fourth behind Beauchamp Bagenal, and I was disappointed with how he finished his race off. He ran in a better race last-time out and finished down the field and looked a shadow of the horse that looked like breaking his maiden on numerous occasions for Aidan O’Brien.
The application of cheek-pieces here could make a big difference, as will the drop in grade. He should travel better and this race is likely to be a more even pace.
He looks the value and will be hard to keep out of the frame.
5.30 VIEW RESTAURANT AT DUNDALK STADIUM RACE 7F
Michael Halford is no stranger to success at Dundalk and his runner here, ORCHID GARDENS (Evens fav as at 9:50am on Friday), looks primed to go very close. As a filly, she will receive weight (five pounds) from the colts here and will be getting 12lb from Joseph O’Brien’s runner, Crossfirehurricane, because that colt has also won a race.
That should be enough to see her go very close if she can show normal improvement from first run to second. She travelled well on her debut and stayed on strongly. Race-fitness will be on her side and that could prove to be the main advantage.
She looks the one to beat on form and it will take a good performance from some of the opposition to get past her.
6.00 DUNDALKSTADIUM.COM APPRENTICE HANDICAP
EACHARN (18/1 as at 9:50am on Friday) is one of the horses that I have followed over the winter months at Dundalk and I was very surprised to see how much he drifted in the betting before his run last-time out. He flattened out to finish fifth after looking like he would get into contention at the two-furlong pole. His previous win off a mark of 61 was very encouraging, with the second and third going on to win after that to frank the form. He is the sort of horse that you need to sit and suffer on and wait for the gaps, but Ben Coen is a very good jockey booking and this race could really be run to suit.
He is nicely drawn in stall seven so Ben should be able to adopt a handy position and let the horse travel away. His mark of 66 is well within his reach.
I would expect him to be hard to keep out of the frame.
6.30 CROWNE PLAZA DUNDALK RACE AND STAY MAIDEN 1m 4f
Noel Meade has a very interesting runner here with JERANDME (Evens fav as at 9:50am on Friday), who will be ridden by Chris Hayes. This horse is a dual-purpose performer who has some very strong form over hurdles, and also on the flat.
One of the most eye-catching pieces of form for me is when he was a battling second at Leopardstown behind the Willie Mullins-trained Royal Illusion back on the 13th June 2019. He travelled like a very good horse that day and was subsequently caught close home by a masterclass from Patrick Mullins on the winner.
Royal Illusion went on to win the Irish Cesarewitch at The Curragh, so that form should be more than enough here.
He went back over obstacles and finished second to Doctor Duffy and that was another very creditable run. We haven’t seen him in 214 days after he was a beaten short-priced favourite at Roscommon, but if he returns fresh and well and in any sort of form he will take stopping.
One of the best bets of the night for me.
7.00 FUNDRAISE AT DUNDALK STADIUM HANDICAP (DIV I) 1m 4f
John McConnell has his team in tremendous form at Dundalk (and elsewhere – including Cliara, a winner at Wolverhampton on Monday) – in recent weeks and YAMATO (33/10 as at 9:50am on Friday) will be looking to get himself and Siobhan Rutledge into the winner’s enclosure this time around.
This horse had very solid form when trained by Michael Halford and is just starting to show what he can do for his new stable. He was second off a mark of 56 two runs back and is now rated 60 after a very good run at Wolverhampton last-time out. The race went slightly against him last time and he should be able to get a better position here from stall one. He is dropping back in trip to 1m 4f and that shouldn’t be much of an issue. The form of his third has been franked with Saga Bolton, who finished behind him, landing a nice gamble last Friday night.
Yamato, for all his runs at Dundalk, has only won twice so hopefully this will be his third time lucky.
7.30 FUNDRAISE AT DUNDALK STADIUM HANDICAP (DIV II)
The second division of this race looks slightly weaker in terms of form and I am going with a bit of a speculative selection with the Thomas Mullins-trained SHES GOLD (25/1 as at 9:50am on Friday), with Paddy Harnett on board claiming seven pounds.
She caught my eye over hurdles on New Year’s Eve at Punchestown, where she wasn’t beaten far in sixth at 40/1. She was trapped for room and stayed on at the same pace to not really trouble the leaders but showed that there is a modicum of ability in her. I would draw a line through her last run as she made a number of mistakes and I think it really knocked her confidence.
She may not be the leading light in her stable but it wouldn’t surprise me if she runs better than her price might suggest.
Small each way play here.
8.00 BET ON THE BEST NIGHT OUT MAIDEN 5F
This race looks to be all about whether Healy’s Double can give a stone in weight for age allowance to BOMBSHELL (4/1 as at 9:50am on Friday), who is the younger of the two fillies.
Bombshell let me down on her debut when she fluffed the start and ran no sort of race. She improved on that next time out when she stayed on to be a very creditable second behind a very useful sort in Big Gossey.
With another run under her belt, and race-fitness on her side, she looks the one they all have to beat. She is nicely drawn here and hopefully she can get away from the gates quickly and show the ability she has obviously been showing at home.
A solid selection here.
8.30 CROWNE PLAZA DUNDALK RACE AND STAY HANDICAP 1M
****CALLING TIME is now a NON-RUNNER****
Alan’s amended choice is LORD RAPSCALLION – In his own words:
“On the line of form through Calling Time, Lord Rapscallion will obviously be tough to beat. With Calling Time a non-runner, I don’t have a strong view, but the Murtagh runner would be a play in the getting-out stakes.”
We save the best until last with the nap of the night and I probably couldn’t have picked a more-competitive race. CALLING TIME (6/1 as at 9:50am on Friday), trained by Jessica Harrington, seems to find one too good most of the time, but this time around I think she will be able to get her head in front.
She is very consistent and the handicapper has given her a real chance by raising her just a pound to a mark of 79 after finishing second in each of her last three runs. She has form to find with Lord Rapscallion from last time out but she is getting 6lb for just over two lengths and that for me looks more than enough for her to overturn the form.
Her dam, Timeless Call, won four times at Dundalk, including at Listed level.
She has everything in her favour and I will be disappointed if she doesn’t go very close here.