Ballinrobe bounty: what to watch out for on track's richest raceday
Ballinrobe stages its richest race meeting of the year on Tuesday evening with €159,500 in prize-money up for grabs, including a pair of €50,000 handicaps over hurdles and fences respectively.
Galway trainer Norman Lee will be hoping to make the short journey to the course a valuable one with his stable star Sole Pretender tackling the €50,000 McHale Mayo Handicap Hurdle (6.30), who will be ridden by Jonathan Burke.
Lee said: "He's in great order. It's a big step up but he'll have his crack at it and it's nice to have a fella like Johnny [Burke] coming over to ride him for us."
The trainer added: "This horse is doing great for us, but this will tell a tale. If he can carry 11st 7lb and beat Swamp Fox and the rest of them we'll be dreaming away.
"He's only a handy horse, but he's exciting. Hopefully we don't get too much rain."
Lone Wolf, Crossed My Mind, Getaway Katie Mai and Roxboro Road make up a strong JP McManus-owned challenge, of which the legendary owner's racing manager Frank Berry said: "Lone Wolf was starting to stay on when he was brought down the last day. He looked like he had a bit to do at the time, but he was in the process of running a nice race on his return.
"Crossed My Mind won a nice pot on Easter Monday at Cork and Arthur [Moore] says he's in good form so we're hoping for the best.
"Getaway Katie Mai has been absent for a while and this is her first handicap so you'd be hoping for a good run and the experience should do her good. Roxboro Road won well at Fairyhouse and we'd like to think he'll be competitive. We've lots of chances."
Peregrine can take flight on decent ground says Fahey
Peter Fahey predicts a big effort from the top-rated Peregrine Run in the McHale Mayo National (8.00), the other €50,000 prize at Ballinrobe, as long as there is no rain.
The nine-year-old has won 11 times for the stable but was dropped 1lb for narrowly holding on to win by a nose in a Grade 3 over 2m4f at Killarney.
The trainer reports his charge to be in rude health, and said: "I couldn't be happier with him to be honest and I'd expect him to run a nice race, provided the rain stays away.
"I'd be only 50-50 about running him if we get rain. It's a typically good race for the money that's on offer, but I'm very happy with our lad."
JP McManus throws four darts at this as well, with De Name Escapes Me, The Gatechecker, Landofhopeandglory and Tesseract making up the challenge. Speaking about their chances, Berry said: "De Name Escapes Me has been a bit frustrating of late after he unseated at Punchestown, but we are hopeful he can put that behind him and run a good race.
"The Gatechecker would probably have to bounce back to his best to have a say in this, while Landofhopeandglory ran okay at Punchestown but a return to a smaller track might suit him.
"Tesseract has had his problems and has been off a long time so it's nice to get him started again and hopefully he can run a good race."
Classic winner Wicklow Brave makes chasing debut
You don’t often see a Classic winner running over jumps but Wicklow Brave, winner of the 2016 Irish St Leger and 2017 Punchestown Champion Hurdle, makes his debut over fences in the 2m1f beginners' chase (7.30) at Ballinrobe.
Classic winners being sent jumping is rare but not unique. West Indies, the only Classic winner to triumph over the Grand National fences, won the Irish 1,000 Guineas by 12 lengths in 1927 and the Valentine Chase at Aintree in 1931.
Aurelius, the 1961 St Leger winner, scored at Ascot on the Flat as well as over hurdles and over fences.
Willie Mullins reports Wicklow Brave to be in rude health. The champion trainer said: "Our owner was keen to run him over fences last year and we said we'd wait, but Ballinrobe is a nice track to start off at."
'Touch unlucky' Boundary bids to get backs to winning ways
The in-foal Boundary Lane has looked a progressive filly since joining Julie Camacho's stable and bids to get back to winning ways at Redcar in the Watch Racing TV In Stunning HD Fillies' Handicap (4.50).
Camacho's husband and partner Steve Brown said: "She’s lightly raced over five furlongs and that's had a positive effect on her. We’ve been pleased with the two runs and you could argue she was a touch unlucky last time at Newmarket, as she raced away from the other three and was keeping on well. I don’t think she would have needed much further to get there.
"It looks a nice race and the ground looks like it’ll be fast, which she seems to appreciate."
Baker hoping Mamillius delivers more Brighton success
George Baker has been surprised by the consistency of Mamillius at Brighton and hopes the six-year-old can add to his tally at the seaside course in the Weatherbys Stallion Book Handicap (2.30).
Mamillius is up 4lb for his April win at the track, and Baker said: "For a big horse he's actually very well balanced. A couple of years ago I wouldn't have deemed him likely to be a Brighton specialist, but he seems to like the place and runs consistently there.
"It's a tight little contest but we're very hopeful. He's taken forever to grow into himself and now he's got a bit of confidence."
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