Eddie O’Grady’s horse looked held when falling at the last at Ballinrobe on his first start in Ireland, and made amends with an easy victory on good-to-firm ground at Thurles next time, beating Buyer Beware, who has since won his maiden.
The ex-French-trained horse struggled up in grade on his next two starts, but actually ran much better than the form-lines suggest, as he was thoroughly inconvenienced by the ground.
Although he must carry a penalty for his Thurles success, the return to better ground is a huge plus for the gelding.
Currently rated 116, he looks more than capable of leaving that mark well behind in time, although he may not need to do so in today’s company.
He is readily preferred to Ciao Cielo and Plain Talking.
The former had a mark in the 80s on the level in Britain, and ran a promising race on his debut over timber when fourth behind Sweet Cherry.
Plain Talking also has claims, following her win at Limerick, but needs to improve her jumping.
The good ground is also a must for Shadow Play, who can follow up his recent Downpatrick victory by taking the two-mile-six handicap chase for Paul Nolan.
He raced a little keenly last time, but was allowed to stride on by Davy Russell, and never looked in danger of being caught.
As a lightly raced six-year-old, there ought to be plenty more improvement in him, and similar tactics can yield the same result.
Off a mark of 106, he is still 2lbs lower than his hurdling figure, and looks set to leave that behind over the coming months. He can score at the expense of Ballyfinboy and Jansboy.
It will be interesting to see what the market makes of Penhill, who makes his hurdling debut for Willie Mullins in the two-mile maiden.
Sent off at single figures odds for the November Handicap at Doncaster on his last start, the 100-rated flat horse has the potential to outclass his rivals here.
How significant it is that he is starting off at this track may be known in the fullness of time, but if the market speaks in his favour it will take something special to lower his colours.