TAKE a chance on the Dermot Weld trained Northern Rocked on the beach at Laytown this evening.
The annual excursion to the seaside in County Meath has, significantly, attracted the three men involved in the battle for the jockeys championship title, reigning champion Johnny Murtagh, his predecessor Pat Smullen and Fran Berry, eagerly chasing his first title.
And all three have prospects of being among the winners at this unique fixture, with arguably Smullen’s best chance being on Northern Rocked, runner-up four times in his nine career starts and clearly capable of getting off the mark in an event like the Gilna’s Cottage Inn Maiden over seven furlongs.
Beaten by Sixteen Forty Two at Listowel in June, Weld’s charge disappointed at the Galway Festival, but performed creditably last time, when second to Cul A Dun in a Killarney handicap, for which he was raised 4lb.
Although clearly no star, Northern Rocked will hardly get a better opportunity to open account than this and should account for Fleeting Moment and Prayer Boat.
Winner of the six-furlong O’Neills Sports Handicap last year, The Hamptons is back in a bid to follow-up, off a 12lb. higher mark. Placed twice in Naas this season, Niall Madden’s charge returned to winning form at Bellewstown last time, when holding off Statue Of Dreams (reopposes today) by a short-head. Upped 3lb. for that win, The Hamptons must hump 11-0 but, having shown a liking for Laytown last year, and with regular partner Fran Berry again in the saddle, he should prove tough to beat.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved