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Tuesday, 13 November, 2018

Elliott: Liam Healy was a bit of a legend so it would be nice to go and win it

Fred Winter Hurdle hero Veneer Of Charm tackles the Liam Healy Memorial Lartigue Hurdle at Listowel
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Listowel 3.40
Liam Healy Memorial Lartigue Hurdle | 2m | ATR & TG4

Liam Healy, a man greatly missed on the Irish racing circuit, is remembered in the title of this ultra-competitive four-year-old handicap hurdle, which features the Gordon Elliott-trained Cheltenham Festival winner Veneer Of Charm.

The legendary racing photographer passed away in July 2016 but the Healy name lives strong in Listowel, with sons Pat ‘Cash’ and Liam, along with their own sons and extended family, still driving the business which was established in 1975 by the great man himself.

In fact, Healy’s grandson Sean, a son of Liam jnr, rides out at Elliott’s and led up Potter’s Point to win last year’s Kerry National, and he will also be on hand on Tuesday to lead up Kuiper Belt in his grandfather's race.

Gordon Elliott would relish winning the race in Healy's name
Elliott said: “Liam Healy was a bit of a legend so it would be nice to go and win his race. His grandson Sean gives us a hand whenever he can and he’ll be with us a few days this week again. He’s a good lad."

On his two runners, Veneer Of Charm and Kuiper Belt, he added: “Veneer Of Charm is a Cheltenham Festival winner, but he’s got a lot of weight and will come on a lot for the run. Kuiper Belt is in good form and has a nice weight.”

What they say

John McConnell, trainer of Pearl Of The West and Itsalonglongroad
Pearl Of The West got a big lump of weight [9lb] for her Bellewstown win and she has to carry top weight. If the ground softens further we’d be hopeful rather than confident with her, even though her latest performance was her best yet. There’s every chance she could be improving but she’ll need to be as it’s a very competitive renewal. Itsalonglongroad ran well on the Flat last time, and he’d have a chance if he behaves himself as he’s not as ground dependant.

Seamus Fahey, trainer of Randalls Ur Poet
We’re hopeful of a big run. The more rain that comes the better as it might slow some of the others down, but it won’t inconvenience him too much. He ran well here last year as well.

Eoin Doyle, trainer of Ingleby Mackenzie
He’s been progressing nicely this summer but the ground would be a worry. He’s better on a sounder surface, but we’ll let him take his chance.

EBF Auction Hurdle Series launches at Listowel

The Irish EBF Auction Hurdle Series, which will run through until April 2019, kicks off at Listowel on Tuesday afternoon with a €20,000 maiden hurdle (3.05) confined to horses who have been purchased at a public auction in Britain or Ireland for €45,000 or less – but not everybody is pleased with the conditions of the races.

Eric McNamara, who sent out a double at Listowel on Sunday, runs The Reaping Race in the opening contest of the series, but while he believes the initiative is a sound step, he thinks the criteria of the races need to be examined in future.

Listowel's harvest festival continues on Tuesday
“I think they’re a great idea and a big thank you to the sponsors but I think the conditions of the races are wrong," he said. "Having runners costing up to €45,000 is far too high and it should be capped at €30,000 at an absolute maximum.”

This race was capped at €30,000 12 months ago, while point-to-point and bumper winners weren’t eligible to run, something McNamara feels should have remained the case.

He added: “There should be no way that bumper and point-to-point winners should be allowed to run in them either. A lot of the smaller trainers have been let down by the conditions of the race.”

The series boasts total prize-money of €355,000 and consists of 14 maiden and novice hurdle races between now and April, each worth a minimum of €20,000, with the final worth €75,000.

Equilateral stands out at Leicester

There may be only three runners declared for the EBF Stallions Prestwold Conditions Stakes (3.45) at Leicester on Tuesday but the presence in the line-up of Equilateral ensures plenty of interest.

Khalid Abdullah’s son of Equiano was sent off at 6-1 for the Commonwealth Cup off the back of an impressive comeback victory at Doncaster but failed to land a blow, before also running below expectations in the Hackwood Stakes at Newbury.

Charlie Hills has opted not only for a confidence-boosting drop in class but also a step back in trip, with Equilateral tackling five furlongs for the first time since his debut success at Bath last August.

"We’ve given him a bit of time since his run at Newbury," said Hills. "The plan was perhaps to have run him in the Scarbrough, but this race made a bit more sense. He’s still relatively inexperienced so we needed to take our time. We were a bit disappointed with his last two starts but he still shows he’s a very good horse at home."

Bookmakers rate the Paul Midgley-trained veteran Line Of Reason the chief danger to Equilateral. The eight-year-old comes here off a fine fourth-placed effort in the Beverley Bullet.   

The field is completed by Sarshampla, who makes her first start since finishing third to Elnadim Star in a Listed fillies’ race at Ayr in June.

Hills, meanwhile, is keen to avoid unsuitable ground for Nebo, who is declared to run in the British Stallion Studs EBF Conditions Stakes (5.40 RUK) at Salisbury.

“We have to keep an eye on the ground at Salisbury and if it’s too quick he won’t run,” he said.

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Veneer Of Charm is a Cheltenham Festival winner, but he’s got a lot of weight and he will come on a lot for the run
E.W. Terms
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