Course specialist Captain Joy should be tough to beat in the Carragher’s XL Castleblayney Race in Dundalk tonight.
The polytrack stages two Fast-Track qualifiers for Lingfield Park’s all-weather championships on Good Friday, one over a mile and the other over a trip just short of a mile and three furlongs. The Tracey Collins-trained Captains Joy has already booked his ticket to Lingfield, having won a qualifier on that track in January.
But the tough and reliable six-year-old, already a six-time winner on Ireland’s polytrack, still sets the standard in tonight’s race.
Captain Joy has won four times over seven furlongs and twice over a mile at Dundalk, his most recent successes coming over the short trip in October and December.
With Pat Smullen claimed to ride Producer, bought by Dermot Weld out of Richard Hannon’s for Calumet Farms, Ronan Whelan takes over on Captain Joy, seeking a third win on the grey whose proven fitness and form at Dundalk earns him the vote.
The other qualifier, the www.valuecentre.ie Race, looks an ideal opportunity for the Jim Bolger-trained Parish Hall, winner of the 2011 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, to make a winning start to 2015.
Parish Hall was last seen when narrowly beaten by Pether’s Moon in the Cumberland Lodge Stakes (Group 3) at Ascot in October.
If close to full fitness, he should prove too strong for his five rivals, with Dermot Weld’s Behesht, bought out of Alain De Royer-Dupree’s yard for €525,000, potentially the biggest threat.
And the consistent, 78-rated Maira, beaten a half-length by Marise last time, should open her account for Michael Halford and Shane Foley in the BWG Foods Maiden.
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