Girl power! Blackmore bidding to continue female domination on 2015 winner Angel
Guinness Kerry National Handicap Chase (Grade A) | 3m | 4yo+ | ATR/TG4
Ladies day at Listowel is officially the Friday fixture. Unofficially it is held on Wednesday, however, as the Guinness Kerry National has been hijacked by female jockeys of late.
Lisa O'Neill has won the last two runnings on Wrath Of Titans (2016) and Potters Point (2017), while Katie Walsh guided Your Busy to victory in 2014. The baton is now handed on to Rachael Blackmore and it couldn't be in safer hands.
Blackmore, who still leads the boys in the championship with 33 winners, has never won a Kerry National but the horse she is riding has.
Rogue Angel dug deep to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the 2015 edition under Ger Fox, fending off Urano by a short head, and he went on to win the Irish Grand National the following March by the same slender margin.
He may be a few years older now, but he is 1lb lower than when he won the race, since when Gordon Elliott has taken over training duties from Mouse Morris.
Rogue Angel was first reserve but Noel Meade has taken Wounded Warrior out, so the evergreen ten-year-old is guaranteed a starting slot and he is vying for favouritism, having been 25-1 just a few days ago.
Don't forget O'Neill either. The hat-trick seeker could be given the chance to win the prestigious race for a third year on the trot as Gigginstown's Eddie O'Leary says she will be on board All Hell Let Loose should the second reserve make the line-up.
One jockey forced to forget not just the Kerry National but the whole of Listowel's seven-day festival is Ruby Walsh, whose crashing fall at Killarney last month is keeping him sidelined.
Speaking to Paddy Power he said: “There's still very deep bruising in the bones in all of my ribs and around my back. I’ll just have to wait until it’s right. Next week is quiet, and Gowran Park and Tipperary at the end of the month are the next meetings that there's good racing at so hopefully I’ll be okay for then, with a bit of luck."
The British are coming
Not since the two Murphys, Ferdy and Timmy, teamed up to win the race in 2000 with Mac's Supreme has a British-trained runner won the Kerry National. Viva Steve did best of the raiding party 12 months ago when fourth to Potters Point and the away team looks strong this year with the mud-loving Bishops Road, Dell' Arca and Shantou Village bidding to end an 18-year drought.
Seven is the magic number
Seven-year-olds have won this race for the last three years. There are half a dozen seven-year-olds this year – A Rated, Blazer, Jury Duty, Saturnas, Timiyan and Townshend.
Bay Of Freedom seems to save his best for Listowel. The nine-year-old was third in the race 12 months ago off a 3lb lower mark and won his beginners' chase at this meeting in 2016. He was also third at the track on his debut in a bumper. Snow Falcon is unbeaten at Listowel having won his sole start at the venue in a Flat race in 2016.
What they say
Gordon Elliott, trainer of Jury Duty, Timiyan, Rogue Angel and Thunder And Roses
The ground is a big worry for all of mine. Jury Duty has top weight and it won’t be easy for him on ground like this. Rogue Angel is in good form and I’ve been happy with him but I'm worried about the ground for him too. It's a big ask for them all.
Peter Fahey, trainer of Peregrine Run and Bay Of Freedom
We left Peregrine Run in just in case it dried out. If they get any more rain he won’t run. Bay Of Freedom loves it around Listowel and was third in the race last year. He’ll be fine on the ground and goes well fresh so we’re hopeful of a big run.
Noel Meade, trainer of Snow Falcon
We thought he was unlucky in the Galway Plate. He's in terrific form, probably even better than he was going to Galway. The rain they've had will be a help.
Willie Mullins, trainer of Haymount, Saturnas, Townshend and Blazer
Blazer didn’t get into the Galway Plate so we ran him in the Galway Hurdle, where he was second to Sharjah. I think he should be fine on the ground and he has a good run over three miles at Fairyhouse last season to his name. Saturnas got no luck at all either day at Galway and we think he could have a bit up his sleeve. Haymount made an early mistake in the Galway Plate that put him on the back foot but ran well there later in the week. He’s in good form. Townshend has been shaping as though this sort of trip might suit him.
Neil Mullholland, trainer of Shantou Village
It was nice to get Shantou Village back on track last time and he enjoyed a nice confidence booster. Hopefully he can jump and travel around there, although we could do with it drying out a bit.
Joseph O’Brien, trainer of Slowmotion and Vieux Morvan
The more rain that falls the better. Vieux Morvan was unlucky to be brought down in the Blazers at Galway. He seemed to be travelling well at the time, though it was too early to know how he'd have fared. He’s been in great form at home since and conditions are very much in his favour. Slowmotion was sixth in the Galway Plate and has been in good form since. Hopefully she has a decent chance.
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