It's back on the flat at Gowran and Limerick today and Tony Keenan has three horses to back...
"Somehow was off since the previous August and suffered an injury when being prepared for the Matron Stakes so was likely to have needed the run more than most and in any case the ground was too soft for her."
Racing seasons are remembered for different things, most typically the performances of defining horses, but the 2016/17 campaign will be always be about Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott. One had to be impressed with how they finished out the season, never resorting to running their horses into the ground with multiple outings in a short space of time; winning a trainers' championship is a big thing but if it comes at the cost of the future wellbeing of your horses the price is too high.
Mullins actually bettered his previous high prizemoney high in winning yesterday while Elliott equalled Mullins' record of number of winners trained in the season. They are in a training tier all of their own but those at the level below them - Henry De Bromhead, Noel Meade and Jessica Harrington - also had fine seasons, career years even. As for the rest, you really have to wonder, as the rise of the big two along with the three mini-major trainers below them has to come from somewhere and the squeezed middle is suffering.
Today's cards are difficult, not just because we have to switch into flat mode having been watching jump racing all week, but also because of a band of rain that is coming across the country this afternoon and is likely to alter the ground. It would be best to keep stakes small.
Gowran 14:35 - Rain would suit mudlark Orangey Red
A softening of the ground would be in the favour of Orangey Red who has already won twice on heavy; it clearly won't get that deep but a surface on the slow side of good would be fine. She shaped well on her first start for Bill Farrell at Naas earlier in the month, staying on from off the pace over a trip sharp enough for her and this step up to seven furlongs will suit. The application of the blinkers is a plus and a mark of 81 is hardly insurmountable on her three-year-old form.
Limerick 15:20 - Morn can build on good return
Horses typically shouldn't be improving for leaving Dermot Weld and joining Tony Mullins but January Morn seems to have done just that after an excellent seasonal debut last Sunday at Navan. She started off last season well too when fourth in a maiden won by the now 97-rated Drumfad Bay with some decent fillies in behind but didn't go on from that; it's a concern that she might do the same again here but the stop-start nature of her juvenile season suggests all may not have been right. That she returns to the track so soon now suggests she's in good form and should go well.
Gowran 15:35 - Somehow to improve on seasonal debut
Aidan O'Brien has had his team well forward in 2017 so some might crab Somehow for failing to win on her return at Naas; there is an argument to the contrary however. She was off since the previous August and suffered an injury when being prepared for the Matron Stakes so was likely to have needed the run more than most and in any case the ground was too soft for her. Even with rain forecast, this going will be quicker and the step up in trip is no negative. She has a fitness edge on her main rivals and Laganore and Turret Rocks and likely an ability edge too.
0.5 Point Back Orangey Red @ 8.27/1 or bigger in the Gowran 14:35
0.5 Point Back January Morn @ 7.613/2 or bigger in the Limerick 15:20
1 Point Back Somehow @ 2.56/4 or bigger in the Gowran 15:35
2017 P+L: +10.25 points