It’s Friday so another night of racing under the lights at the ever-popular Dundalk lies ahead.
As usual, here’s Alan Marron to mark your card. He ended last week’s meeting with a 6/1 winner, Munfallet, who runs again this evening (at 7:30pm), although Alan opposes him this time around.
We have three Extra-Place races available on tonight’s card, including the first race…
4.55 KENTUCKY DERBY QUALIFIER AT DUNDALK FEBRUARY 28TH APPRENTICE HANDICAP 1m 4f
SHARJAH has a very strong record at Dundalk and could improve that here from a good draw. He has gone up 1lb to 47 since finishing second last-time out behind Morph Speed. Sharjah has some very solid placed form off higher marks and that should see him in contention here.
The draw is crucial to this horse as he likes to adopt a prominent position and make most of the running. This race looks to have very little pace in it and he could get his own way in front and be very hard to pass. He is a ten year-old so, in terms of improvement, there is more than likely none in the tank. He likes Dundalk, THOUGH, and normally runs his race more often than not.
Will be hard to keep out of the frame here.
Price (as at 9:40am on Friday), 5/1
**This is one of the races in which Bar One Racing are paying 4 PLACES**
5.30 IRISHINJUREDJOCKEYS.COM HANDICAP 1m 2f
The pace of the race last week didn’t help SHEISDIESEL and Colin Keane settled her out the back. She travelled well into the race but couldn’t get into contention. She has been dropped in trip here and dropped a pound by the handicapper. This looks a race in which her stamina could prove vital.
This looks to be a much-easier race and less competitive than last time and, if she runs her normal race, she looks to be very hard to beat here.
The last time she dropped back in trip she was fourth behind Charcor, trained by Jessica Harrington, and that form looks way above anything else in the race.
If she travels off the pace and can get a good tow in to the furlong pole, Colin should be able to set her about her work and put the race to bed nicely.
Price (as at 9:40am on Friday), 11/10
6.00 IRISH STALLION FARMS EBF FILLIES MAIDEN 1m
This race looks to be the ideal opportunity for Donnacha O’Brien to get his first winner on the board as a trainer with FLOWER GARLAND. She was unlucky last-time out behind Calidus Mirabillis, who is trained by Donnacha’s brother, Joseph. Gavin Ryan got a good tune out of this filly last time and, if she can improve off the back of that run, she will be hard to beat.
The form of her last run has worked out well enough with the fifth placed The Truant finishing third next time out. The fourth horse Absolute One Right went on to finish sixth behind Eglish last week and that franks the form another little bit, while Calidus Mirabilis has gone on to win from a higher rating at Chelmsford.
Flower Garland deserves to break her maiden on the back of her last two runs and looks hard to keep out of the frame here on what could be a historic night for the O’Brien family.
Price (as at 9:40am on Friday), 8/11
6.30 CROWNE PLAZA RACE AND STAY HANDICAP 1m1f
One of the most competitive races on the card and the Damian English-trained SHAWAF could give the rest of the opposition plenty to think about.
He is very lightly-raced and a modicum of improvement has been shown in recent races, especially his run last-time out, where he finished second to Parkers Hill, when he made most of the running, and looks in a prime position here to do something similar.
He is drawn in stall four and that should be the perfect position for Ronan Whelan to set the fractions and have them all at it in behind from two furlongs out.
That was his first handicap and he got raised 3lb for that run. There is most definitely improvement to come off this mark and I have no doubt that Damian English will exploit it sooner rather than later.
Price (as at 9:40am on Friday), 9/1
7.00 IRISH STALLION FARMS EBF MEDIAN AUCTION MAIDEN, 7f
UBUME looks to be one of the main contenders here if she can show improvement from first run to second. I watched her last time and she travelled away and stayed on nicely up the straight. She finished sixth on that occasion and, as we have seen over the winter, many of Joseph’s horses improve off the back of a run.
She won’t need to improve much on that to be a contender here as, for me, it is a race lacking stand-out form. She gets 5lb from the colts here and that will be enough, in my view, to see her make the frame at least.
In terms of form in the race, Kokura is effectively a winner in a maiden after beating Mr Mooj last-time out but, in doing so, caused interference and lost the race in the Stewards’ room. Ubume has the better of the draw and, as she is a stablemate of Mr Mooj, I am happy to think Joseph will know where he stands.
I will be watching the market closely for this race.
Price (as at 9:40am on Friday), 5/2
Don’t forget these offers that we have available on the Cheltenham Festival, which runs from Tuesday March 10th to Friday March 13th…
7.30 FUNDRAISE AT DUNDALK STADIUM HANDICAP (DIV I) 7F
Many of our old favourites appear here and DANCE ALONE, who will be ridden by Kevin Manning, could well give Damian English a double on the night.
This horse came back to form last-time out off a mark of 52, despite experiencing a luckless run where he was short of room on numerous occasions but ran on strongly to finish third. He is one horse that I have had in my tracker for a while as he continues to drop in the weights. He was a winner off a mark of 59 in 2018 at Dundalk and is 7lb lower here. He likes to go forward in his races and Kevin should have no problem getting a prominent position from stall three.
As always, these handicaps are very competitive but he should be hard to keep out of the frame with luck in running. Tactics may be crucial here and, if Kevin goes to the front early, he could be hard to catch.
Very strong each-way chance.
Price (as at 9:40am on Friday), 13/2
8.00 FUNDRAISE AT DUNDALK STADIUM HANDICAP (DIV II) 7F
This looks to be the weaker division of this handicap and it gives the Johnny Levins-trained KINCH an excellent opportunity to get his head in front following a very strong second to Adnap last-time out.
Adnap was impressive on the night and won with a little in hand so Kinch did well to get as close as he did. The handicapper has been lenient enough and only raised him 2lb from 56 to 58. He is dropping back in trip to seven furlongs and that, for me, will make all the difference. Adnap is a very good yardstick for these races and is improving all the time. Kinch will have nothing of that quality in the field here and looks the best bet on the card for me.
My NAP of the night.
Price (as at 9:40am on Friday), 2/1
8.30 FLOODLIT FRIDAYS CONTINUE AT DUNDALK STADIUM HANDICAP, 7f
A very interesting jockey booking in the last is Eddie Greatrex riding for Joseph O’Brien aboard EMPIRE STATE. This horse was formerly trained by Aidan O’Brien and has some quality formlines to boot.
It took him a while to break his maiden but he did it nicely at this venue under Donnacha O’Brien back on 14th April 2019. It is very interesting that he is kept in training and they obviously think that he will improve from three to four. He gets plenty of weight from Hathiq at the top of the handicap and, while Empire State will need to improve to get close to the likes of Hathiq, he could be something of a dark horse after a winter break.
He could be one of those that could run up a sequence and make his mark of 77 look well below the actual potential that he has.
He’s one to keep a close eye on.
Price (as at 9:40am on Friday), 11/2