Racing continues behind closed doors in Ireland on Sunday as Limerick stages an 8 race card worth €162,500. The feature is the Grade 2 Mares Novice Chase at 3.45.
1.40 2m Follow Limerick Racecourse On Facebook Hurdle (4yo)
This is a race only open to 4-year-old’s who haven’t won more than one hurdle race but Denis Hogan’s Cafe Con Leche did win a maiden over this trip on testing ground last time and has a good chance of following up here.
However, the gelding may have a job on his hands to get past Great Bear who is trained by Meath’s Thomas Gibney and was over just 2 lengths behind festival winner Burning Victory when a runner-up at Fairyhouse in a Grade 3 Juvenile Hurdle last month and with that being the clear pick of the form in a field of 10 which also features some newcomers then it’s hard to look pass Darragh O’Keeffe’s mount.
2.10 2m6f Kerry Group Irish EBF Shannon Spray Mares Novice Hurdle (Grade 3) (4yo+)
You’re going to need to find a stayer to win in these conditions and Larquebuse certainly appears to be one having put in a good run in a Grade 3 stayers Novice hurdle at Cork in December before landing a 2m4f Mares Novice at Leopardstown last time.
Drury stopped quickly according to jockey Paul Towend when well beaten in a Grade 3 at Thurles latest but you certainty couldn’t rule out these connections at the moment while Well Set Up also fits the stayers profile having finished just a length behind Fury Road over 2m7f here in December on very testing ground.
First time cheekpieces are applied by Mark Fahey after a flop at Punchestown last time but I fancy Well Set Up to run a better race here.
2.40 2m6f Follow Limerick Racecourse On Twitter Handicap Hurdle (4yo+ 80-109)
We go handicapping for the first time at 2.40 and a 3lb rise may not be enough to stop Moyode Gold’s upward curve with Jamie Nash’s charge following up maiden success at Fairyhouse in January with two really good runners up efforts at the same venue latest.
Ballea Fox won off 89 at Punchestown last month and was found to be suffering with heat stress after a disappointing effort at Clonmel a few weeks ago but racing off just 4lb higher than that Punchestown success then the gelding shouldn’t be ruled out.
Spancil Hill looks on a fair mark and has Barry Browne taking a further 5lb off his back and may give a good account but it’s difficult to oppose the expected favorite Moyode Gold.
3.15 3m #63 Hospitality Packages At Limerick Racecourse Maiden Hurdle (5yo+)
Atlantic Shore has run behind some really useful sorts of late including Cheltenham runner Escaria Ten and Albertt Bartlet winner Monkfish while should Well Set Up win the 2.10 then that would be a further boost to the form as Philip Fenton’s 7-year-old was fourth of five runners in a listed race won by that rival at Cork previously.
Vent D’automne may prove the danger being an extended 2m bumper winner who also ran well here on rules debut and the step up in trip to 2m6f at Punchestown last time seemed to unlock further improvement in Willie Mullins charge.
It would be easy to side with Townend & Mullins given their current form but Atlantic Shore showed his staying power last time and while the ground is a slight concern first time blinkers may just eek out that extra bit needed to break the duck.
3.45 2m6½f (2m6f120y) Charleville Cheese Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase (Grade 2) (5yo+)
This is the feature and it’s clear who the one to beat is….that would be Willie Mullins Salsaretta who is 3-3 since switching to fences.
British raider Monbeg Zena is unbeaten in 3 starts (1 point, 1 hurdle & 1 chase) and will be ridden by Robbie Power while Tintangle ran a good race in listed company at Naas last time.
Countess Cathleen has taken well to fences and won a Grade B handicap at Naas last time and while this represents a massive step up in class Denis Hickey’s 9-year-old might represent good each way value at a big price.
4.20 2m1½f (2m1f160y) Book Online At www.limerickraces.ie Beginners Chase (5yo+)
A rather weak looking beginners chase which features a former Pertemps hurdle participant in Thermistocles who holds the pick of the form over timber having run ok behind the likes of Sire Du Berlais and Ronald Pump.
As a result, Joseph O’Brien’s charge is expected to go off a warm order so I’m going to try and oppose him with Oliver McKiernan’s Chief Of Police who’s already had the benefit of a chase start at Leopardstown and should come on for it.
The former flat campaigner shaped ok behind Andy Dufresne in a big field at Navan over hurdles and if the price allows an ew play is in order here.
4.50 3m½f (3m120y) Follow Limerick Racecourse On Instagram Handicap Chase (5yo+)
A competitive looking handicap chase with Ask And Answers last three starts returning form figures of 123 and going up in trip today off the same mark as the most recent of those efforts is likely to suit Sean Aherne’s charge.
Misty Adage got off the mark with a win at Clonmel last time but faces a tougher task off 5lb higher while Lacken Bridge was just behind that rival last time and is only 2lb higher now meaning that form could be reversed.
My vote goes the way of the Russell & Elliott combo of Kayf Though however, as the gelding has been really solid in reaching the frame in the last two starts over fences (plenty of hurdles appearances in between) and races off an unchanged mark from when finishing just over 2 lengths behind the winner Persian Sun at Fairyhouse last time out.
5.20 2m Dunraven Arms Hotel (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race (5-7yo)
Some people dislike bumpers but I must admit I love trying to solve the puzzle they provide and this bumper looks a cracker.
Stattler beat Jimmy Jimmy (who was a runner-up at Navan on Saturday) in a Fairyhouse bumper on debut before reaching the frame in a winners bumper at Naas last time so looks a strong prospect for the Mullins team while On Eagles Wings was a runner-up to Cheltenham Champion Bumper Hero Ferny Hollow at Fairyhouse last time out.
Favori De Champdou beat a subsequent winner at Thurles on good ground latest and has ran behind winter festival winner Eric Bloodaxe previously while One Dawn won its only start in a rather weak Tramore offering.
For me it’s difficult to separate Stattler and On Eagles Wings but with the former making just a third career start and being a year younger I think there might be slightly more scope for improvement in a race that will take some winning.