Gary O'Brien Irish Racing Tips: Heliers can keep rivals at Bay

Wincanton hurdle action
Gary fancies one in a handicap hurdle later today

There's a decent card at Ballinrobe today and Racing UK's Gary O'Brien fancies a Jessica Harrington runner to supplement last month's victory at the track...

"...she certainly gave the impression that there are more races to be won with her when scampering clear to score by 4½ lengths on her aforementioned handicap debut."

Back Heliers Bay to win the 14:35 at Ballinrobe at 5/2 on the Betfair Sportsbook

Double-headers have become a much more regular feature of Irish racing since the resumption but Ballinrobe has the stage to itself this afternoon, and deservedly so as the progressive County Mayo track is a shining example of what can be achieved with sound management and good local support.

As has been the norm at their behind-closed-doors fixtures in recent months, all seven races are sponsored - in this instance by prominent local farm machinery firm McHale - and one can be sure that had this been a normal year the popular venue would have been thronged for its marquee card.

The featured McHale Mayo National at 16:45 looks very competitive, perhaps too competitive to get involved in, though the progressive Go Another One and Portmore Lough both make plenty of appeal.

Harrington charge can go in again

I would rather concentrate on the McHale Pro Glide Mower Range Handicap Hurdle (and what a fine range I'm sure it is) at 14:35, where Heliers Bay looks a decent bet to supplement her breakthrough victory at today's venue almost a month ago.

Trainer Jessica Harrington has focused her attentions increasingly on the flat in the last few years with spectacular results, but she will never forget her jumping roots and recently spoke of how she is looking forward to unleashing a more select team for the winter months. Whether this Flemensfirth mare will be good enough to be counted amongst their number remains to be seen but she certainly gave the impression that there are more races to be won with her when scampering clear to score by 4½ lengths on her aforementioned handicap debut.

It was not exactly a bolt from the blue either, as she had shown promise in some good maidens last season and attracted support at double-figure prices before eventually going off at 5/1. Kept out of trouble by jockey Sean O'Keeffe, Heliers Bay travelled well thoughout and soon put the race to bed after the final flight, though it was slightly disconcerting to see her flash her tail on the run-in.

Admittedly that wasn't the strongest of contests either, and a 9lb rise will undoubtedly make life tougher, but today's extra quarter-mile on the slightly stiffer outer track - her pedigree suggests she should improve over further - earns her preference over dual Tramore winner Trees Valley.

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