Mark Milligan pens the first of his of weekly Irish columns and recommends a trio to back...
"He still looks open to plenty of progression, and while the price likely won't be anything to get too excited about, I'll be disappointed if he can't get the job done"
Welcome to the first of what will be a regular column taking at look at the best meetings on offer in Ireland each weekend. Throughout the rest of this year - and hopefully well into next - I'll be previewing the top action and attempting to pick out the odd winner or two along the way.
As an Irish handicapper for Timeform and a regular reporter for the firm on Irish racing, I'm hopefully well placed to guide readers through events on the other side of the Irish Sea. Whether you're a fan of the flat or more of a jumps connoisseur who's already starting to salivate at the prospect of the road to Cheltenham, there should be a bit of something for everyone.
And speaking of something for everyone, Sunday's cards at the Curragh and Limerick really do encapsulate that theme, with the Paddy Power Irish Cesarewitch (15:05) taking place at flat racing's Irish HQ, while there is a typically open renewal of the J T McNamara Ladbrokes Munster National (15:55) just over ninety miles to the south-west.
Mullins holds strong hand in Irish Ces
Unfortunately, I'm penning this column before the running of the Cesarewitch at Newmarket on Saturday, so I'm none the wiser as to whether Willie Mullins as trained his fourth winner in a row of that race. What isn't in doubt, though, is that Mullins holds a typically strong hand in the Irish version, fielding four in the main body of the field, whilst he's also responsible for one of the reserves.
Of the Mullins battalions, My Sister Sarah is probably the most interesting, as she could still be lurking on a handy flat mark in comparison to her jumps rating. This daughter of Martaline is a thorough stayer (3m winner over hurdles) and is still unexposed on the flat having made just five starts on the level.
She won off a mark of 73 at Limerick in June before running a highly creditable race in one of the big amateur handicaps at Galway on her most recent flat outing.
She tuned out again just four days later at the Galway festival, finishing a respectable eighth in a handicap hurdle off a jumps mark of 141.
Freshened up since then, she looks to have been laid out specifically for this and seems sure to give a good account running off the same rating as on her last flat start. As one would expect, this is a fiendishly difficult handicap with thirty runners heading to post, but a small each-way bet with enhanced places appeals.
Cavalry Master to continue on the up
The J T McNamara Ladbrokes Munster National (15:55) at Limerick is a typically wide-open handicap chase but there won't be many coming into it boasting the same sort of upwardly mobile profile as Cavalry Master.
Henry de Bromhead's Milan gelding made a stuttering start to his chasing career last season, his early efforts characterised by some poor jumping, but he's really got his act together since the spring, winning four on the bounce.
The transformation in this gelding's jumping really has been something to behold, and credit must go to de Bromhead's team for all the hard work they've put in to turn this side of his game around completely.
His sure-footed leaps have been the hallmark of those four wins in maiden/novice company and that's something that's sure to stand him in good stead as he faces the most competitive race of his career to date.
A current Timeform rating of 147p compares very favourably to the mark of 139 that he gets to race off here and he fully deserves his place as one of the market leaders, despite this being a different scenario to those he's faced so far over the larger obstacles. If Cavalry Master can continue his progress, he'll be a very difficult to keep out of the frame, and he looks another knocking each-way bet.
Off Your Rocco a solid bet
Sunday's best bet comes in the opener at Limerick, the Listed Bluegrass Horse Feed Novice Hurdle (13:10), where the progressive Off Your Rocco is taken to follow up his recent Listowel success. Gordon Elliott's five-year-old produced a career best in first-time cheekpieces there, running out an easy eleven-length winner from Willie Mullins' odds-on favourite Farout.
That was Off Your Rocco's third win from only four starts, his only blip coming when clearly amiss in a similar contest to this at Galway in July. He still looks open to plenty of progression, and while the price likely won't be anything to get too excited about, I'll be disappointed if he can't get the job done.
Of the opposition, Serenity Grove may provide the biggest threat. Henry de Bromhead's ex-pointer made a winning start under Rules when easily taking a fifteen-runner maiden hurdle at Downpatrick just over three weeks ago. He's open to just as much progression as Off Your Rocco, though is less experienced and may have to settle for minor honours this time.
Get a Free £10 Bet - Every Day!
From October 6-12, we are Doubling our Daily Rewards! Stake £20 on Multiples or Bet Builders over the course of a day, and, after the bets have settled, you'll get a free £10 bet to use on Multiples or Bet Builders. Bets must settle within 48 hours. No opt-in required, T&Cs apply.
Mark's 2021 P&L