PAT KEANE: Nicanor looks ready to finally strike over fences

NICANOR, who once beat Denman at the Cheltenham Festival, should be finally ready to strike over fences in the Trim Beginners Chase at Navan this afternoon.

He’s had more than his share of problems and has never been able to fulfil the undoubted promise of his younger days.

But the selection is still far from a back-number, as evidenced by his latest performance at Fairhouse earlier in the month.

Nicanor looked the most likely winner up the straight, but jumped to his left at the final two fences and was eventually beaten four lengths into second by Kempes. The form was boosted when Kempes scored at Thurles yesterday.

Feature event is the Grade 2 Johnstown Novice Hurdle and this will tell us just how good the unbeaten in three races, Pittoni, really is.

His latest success came in a modest Grade 1 at Leopardstown and he now has plenty to do under a 7lbs penalty and taking on older horses for the first time.

You can find large holes in the form of that Leopardstown race, where Pittoni quickened nicely to beat Cross Appeal by two and a half lengths.

They went very slowly that day, however, which allowed bad horses to finish much closer than they might on another occasion.

One suspects the best of Pittoni has yet to be seen and he gets the vote to boost his Cheltenham Triumph Hurdle prospects.

The Irish Stallion Owners’ EBF Novice Chase is best left to Hangover, who ran the race of his life when runner-up behind Whinstone Boy in the Thyestes at Gowran Park.

At Leopardstown tomorrow, Tranquil Sea is the nap choice in the Grade 2 Newlands Chase. He was beaten three and a half lengths by Golden Silver on this track at Christmas and this looks an easier assignment.

Citizen Vic should be hard to beat in the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Novice Chase, even if the trip is on the short side.

But he was particularly good when beating Weapon’s Amnesty in the Grade 1 Moriarty Chase at Leopardstown and we can expect Ruby Walsh to make a lot of use of his stamina.

King Of The Refs, who very much caught the eye when fourth to Stonemaster at Punchestown, can prove another for Walsh in the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Maiden Hurdle.

Won In The Dark came back to his best when winning easily at Punchestown and is the one to beat in the Ballsbridge Hurdle.

Fennis Boy, who stepped up on previous efforts when making a fight of it with hot-pot, Some Target, at Clonmel, can take the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Maiden Hurdle, back at the track tomorrow.


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