Rapidly improving Kicking King looks all set to rule roost

CORK, which has a tremendous record at beating the weather, houses a fine programme this afternoon and what a shame no other meeting is scheduled for the track between now and Cheltenham.

Tom Taaffe’s rapidly improving Kicking King has to be fancied to provide the answer to the McCarthy Insurance Group Waterford and Clonmel Hurdle.

A useful enough bumper performer, the five-year-old made a winning debut over flights at Naas in November.

Despite some indifferent jumping, he powered to a two lengths defeat of Khetaam with the third a further 25 lengths behind.

The form has been working out really well. Khetaam went on to score in a canter at Gowran Park, before going down by a head to the well-regarded Scarthy Lad at Navan.

Kicking King has since proved no match for Solerina at Navan. He was beaten a somewhat flattering eight lengths, but is likely to find this a lot easier.

Charles Byrnes’ Rockstown Boy gets the nap to land the winners’ Bumper. He made a good start when beating Mister Month at Gowran Park.

He again again looked a nice horse last time, at Fairyhouse, when grabbed on the line and beaten a neck by Stacumny Bridge. That form too has been working out.

Stacumny Bridge has since won over hurdles at Leopardstown and The Guy, six lengths adrift at Fairyhouse, also scored over hurdles at Punchestown subsequently.

The Beginners’ Chase is a decent race, bringing together smart sorts in The Gatherer, Ricardo and Soltero.

Preference is for The Gatherer, who was the best of the trio over flights. Runner-up to Rooster Booster in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, he looked set to make a winning debut over fences at Fairyhouse at the end of November, until hitting the deck three from home in the contest won by One Night Out.

Kaoutchou, who caught the eye when third in a moderate race won by Poularkerry at Thurles, gets the nod in the McCarthy Direct Maiden Hurdle.

The rather frustrating Bob Justice should go close in the the EBF Novice Chase at Naas tomorrow.

He performed with credit at Navan last month, a length and a half second to Dutsdale Dancer, and has an edge in experience over main danger, Ground Ball.

Preference, however, is for the latter, who looked much improved when scoring Navan last time.

The brilliant Solerina is nailed on to complete a five-timer in the valuable Grade Three Woodlands Park 100 Slaney Novice Hurdle.

She goes from strength to strength and was far too strong for sole opponent, Central House, at Leopardstown on her latest appearance.

Kenilworth, a surprise second to Party Airs in the Denny Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown, only has to reproduce that effort to take the Sallins Maiden Hurdle!

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