Decent national hunt racing follows close on the heels of Irish Champions Weekend, and Tony Keenan has found two to back in the Kerry National at Listowel...
"Owega Star looks well-handicapped, loves heavy ground and has excellent course form so 13.012/1 looks too big."
Listowel has been a debacle so far this year with the last two days of racing cancelled due to a waterlogged track following close on the heels of Sunday's 32 non-runners.
That card probably should never have been run alongside the second day of Irish Champions Weekend at the Curragh but it proves again the football is more important than flat racing in Kerry, a point reinforced by this Sunday's rescheduled card due to wrap up at 15:15, just in time for the All-Ireland final.
The weather has relented enough to allow the meeting's feature, the Kerry National, to go ahead on Wednesday and it looks a good renewal of the first big staying handicap chase of the national hunt season. The Galway Plate over two furlongs shorter unsurprisingly plays a big part here with seven horses that ran in that Ballybrit event taking part.
Rule The World and The Paparazzi Kid look the clear picks from that form line. The former slipped up between the last two when holding every chance but his stamina for three miles, even at this tight track remains a doubt; he may have placed in the Irish National but that race fell apart with early fallers and he has weakened in the finish enough times over three miles to think he's best at intermediate trips.
The Paparazzi Kid would be my pick of the two and there's every chance he goes one better than at Galway. He loves heavy ground - form figures of:12111 on it - and has some excellent form going back, notably beating Felix Yonger as a novice. The concern is the worth of the Galway form as it really hasn't been tested and his price of around 7.06/1 which is short enough given the competitive field.
Of the Plate also-rans, neither Shanpallas nor Alelchi Inois had any excuses and both prefer faster ground. The likes of Ravished and Horendus Hulabaloo are decent summer jumpers but find themselves a bit high in the weights after winning races in the warmer months. My preference is for a pair of winter types that appear to have been aimed at this race judging by recent prep races.
Owega Star was fine second off 134 in the Troytown last year before meeting trouble in running in the Paddy Power when fifth. The wheels came off afterwards but this means he gets to compete off the same mark as at Navan and there has been definite promise in both his recent runs over hurdles and on the flat. He looks well-handicapped, loves heavy ground and has excellent course form so 13.012/1 looks too big.
Lots Of Memories has never run in a handicap chase but again his mark of 134 looks lenient considering he mixed it in graded company last season. A Grade 1-placed novice hurdler in 2013/14, he was third to Don Poli and Apache Stronghold at Christmas and while his form afterwards was in and out, that looks a by-product of running too frequently. He's been freshened up since and has shaped well in both his runs last month which means 11.010/1 is worth taking.
In calmer water, Malicious Intent merits a bet in the 15:45, a nine-furlong handicap. His visits to the track have been rare but his defeat of Aimhirgin Lass last time marked him down as a well-handicapped horse, that one seemingly having plenty in hand coming into the race. Not only that but he was better than the form, doing well from off a slow pace and idling in the finish, and provided he can get into the race from rear should go close.
Back Owega Star @ 13.012/1 and Lots Of Memories @ 11.010/1 in the Kerry National
Back Malicious Intent in the 15:45 at Listowel