Two competitive handicaps close today's Curragh card, and with five places on offer for each-way bettors Gary O'Brien has provided a couple of selections to consider...
"Due to his association with Jessica Harrington, Shane Foley is unavailable this time so trainer Oliver McKiernan has booked champion National Hunt conditional Darragh O’Keeffe, who takes off a very handy 5lb."
Regular readers of this column (I'm assured there are a handful) will know that I had been quite keen on Presto for the two-mile handicap on Irish Guineas weekend at the Curragh only for the price to cave in to the extent that there wasn't any point putting him up here.
In the end no harm was done as Oliver McKiernan's gelding finished fourth but I must admit that for at least 85% of that race I was preparing myself for the worst as the five year-old travelled palpably better than any of his 15 rivals.
Hoping for a hey Presto moment in Curragh finale
He ultimately tired late on but all told it was a performance that lent credence to my pre-race view that this is a stayer to keep on the right side of, and hopefully he can prove the point on his return to flat headquarters in today's finale at 17:45.
Thrice-raced winner on Flat. Fairly useful winner at 16f in bumpers. 3/1, fourth of 16 in handicap at this C&D (good to firm) 15 days ago.
|13/06/20||Curragh||4/16||Flat||2m||Gd/frm||10st 0lbs||Shane Foley||4.3|
|18/10/19||Dundalk||7/12||Flat||1m 4f||Slow||10st 0lbs||A. J. Slattery||15.22|
|04/09/19||Gowran Park||1/10||Flat||1m 6f||Soft||9st 7lbs||Shane Foley||4.31|
|12/07/19||Cork||1/18||Bumper||2m||Good||11st 8lbs||Mr R. Deegan||30|
In fairness this looks a stronger race, with De Name Escapes Me in particular feared off a light weight under crack apprentice Joey Sheridan and Willie Mullins unleashing top-class hurdler Sharjah and the unexposed Jon Snow. However Presto, who was actually raised 1lb on the back of that reappearance run, is if anything the one with the greatest upside given that he didn't make his racecourse bow until last July when landing a Cork bumper at 20/1.
Due to his association with Jessica Harrington, Shane Foley is unavailable this time so trainer Oliver McKiernan has booked champion National Hunt conditional Darragh O'Keeffe, who takes off a very handy 5lb. The current 13/2 on the Betfair Sportsbook is a bit shorter than I was hoping for but with five places on offer an each-way play still appeals.
Bottom weight looks poised for a big run in 10f handicap
There are plenty in with a chance in the preceding 1m2f handicap at 17:15 but the one who interests me here is bottom-weight Yenillik. This will be a belated debut in handicap company for the well-related four year-old, whose connections persisted in maidens throughout a nine-race campaign in 2019.
Creditable second of 15 in maiden (12/1) at Gowran (9.4f, good) 11 days ago. Yard in good form. Fancied to hold more chance now handicapping.
|17/06/20||Gowran Park||2/15||Flat||1m 1f 100y||Good||9st 9lbs||William James Lee||15.67|
|19/10/19||Leopardstown||19/20||Flat||1m 2f||Heavy||9st 5lbs||William James Lee||8.6|
|14/10/19||Gowran Park||6/16||Flat||1m 4f||Heavy||9st 5lbs||William James Lee||4.1|
|01/09/19||Cork||4/14||Flat||1m 2f||Good||9st 5lbs||William James Lee||5.65|
|19/08/19||Roscommon||2/13||Flat||1m 2f 60y||Soft||9st 5lbs||William James Lee||3.05|
|19/07/19||Killarney||4/14||Flat||1m 6f||Good||9st 5lbs||William James Lee||22|
|23/06/19||Tipperary||8/17||Flat||1m 4f 60y||Gd/sft||9st 5lbs||William James Lee||3.49|
|04/06/19||Tipperary||3/10||Flat||1m 4f 110y||Heavy||9st 5lbs||William James Lee||16.98|
|12/05/19||Leopardstown||7/12||Flat||1m 4f||Gd/sft||9st 5lbs||William James Lee||95|
|25/04/19||Tipperary||9/16||Flat||1m 4f 100y||Soft||9st 5lbs||William James Lee||36|
It was noteworthy that they decided it was worth persevering for another season, and following a gelding operation Willie McCreery's charge produced a really encouraging effort on his return at Gowran Park 11 days ago. Though no match for the well-backed Winner Takes Itall, who had some very smart form earlier in his career, he stuck to his task well to take second and the 2lb rise he was handed gets him nicely in at the foot of the handicap today.
With any cobwebs now blown away, he should definitely be competitive once again provided that comeback effort didn't represent a false dawn and once again the Sporstbook are going five places each-way.