Owega Star must be strongly fancied to make a successful chasing debut in the Connaughton Auctioneers Beginners Chase on today’s mixed card in Roscommon.
Peter Fahey’s charge, winner of a Killarney bumper, was successful three times over hurdles, most notably when registering a Grade 2 victory over Maller Tree in the Tara Hurdle at Navan last December.
The six-year-old has always looked likely to do even better over fences and has been found a good opportunity here as he returns after a two-month break, since finishing less than eleven lengths eight behind Medina in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.
Although his best form is over further, Andrew Leigh’s mount is sure to be well-schooled and is preferred to Noel Meade’s Il Fenomeno, winner of a competitive handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse and seventh behind The Paparazzi Kid in a similar event at Punchestown, and the Eddie Harty-trained Fahamore.
Owega Star and Il Fenomeno are both rated 136 over hurdles. So a fascinating tussle is in prospect. And Owega Star is marginally preferred.
In the earlier flat action, 101-rated Orgilgo Bay goes in search of an elusive success in the opening median auction maiden.
On his best juvenile form, John McConnell’s charge stands out, having chased home current Investec Derby second favourite Battle Of Marengo in the Group 2 Juddmonte Beresford Stakes at the Curragh.
But he disappointed in his final juvenile start and flopped again on his seasonal bow behind We’ll Go Walking in Gowran last month.
For that reason, we’ll oppose him with the Jessica Harrington-trained Protestant, which shaped with plenty of promise when third to subsequent Dante Stakes third Indian Chief on his debut in a Leopardstown maiden. With improvement likely, he might get the better of Orgilgo Bay.
The Ted Walsh-trained Summer Star, a winner of two bumpers in Limerick and two handicap hurdle in Leopardstown, should prove tough to beat in the Irish Stallion farms Fillies Maiden.
The mount of Pat Smullen, she has most to fear from Nouveau Moulin, runner-up to Marchese Marconi in Killarney last Tuesday, and Sho Girl, a pleasing fourth to subsequent Group 3 winner Just Pretending on her recent debut at Navan.
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