Berry Des Aulmes can land the nap in the two-mile maiden hurdle on this afternoon card at Thurles, which consists of six hurdles and a bumper.
From the all-conquering stable of Willie Mullins, he carried the second colours of owners Gigginstown House Stud when making his first start since coming from France, and duly finished runner-up to Ball D’Arc, who carried the first colours. Although he couldn’t quite get on terms with the winner, he stayed on strongly under pressure to be beaten little more than a length, with the third-placed runner, Conna Cross, more than 13 lengths further back.
The selection left the impression he would be better for the outing, and that should be in evidence this afternoon. While he’s likely to appreciate a step up in trip in time, if positively ridden this time he’ll be hard to beat.
Although the ratings suggest Stuccodor should be in the mix, he has had numerous opportunities and struggles to get home over two miles. On heavy ground, against the likes of Berry Des Aulmes, who will want to ensure it’s something of a test, he is opposable once more. The danger may come from the aforementioned Conna Cross.
Although left behind as the winner and Berry Des Aulmes galloped strongly to the line, it was an encouraging debut, and there should be more to come.
Swamp Fox was an expensive failure last time out, but Joseph Murphy’s horse can gain compensation in the opening race, for four-year-olds. Backed as though defeat was out of the question on that most recent outing, he led two from home but was unable to resist the late charge of Tocororo, with one of today’s rivals, Cradle Mountain, in behind. The latter is entitled to show more improvement for the run, given that it was his hurdling debut and first outing since July. However, the conditions of the race favour Swamp Fox, as he receives 7lbs for not having won a race under any rules of racing.
With the extra experience over hurdles and good form on testing ground, the selection can take full advantage of that concession, to earn a long overdue maiden victory.
There was enough encouragement in Oscar Lantern’s debut over hurdles to suggest he can be a major player in the two-mile-six maiden hurdle. Charles Byrnes’ horse was making a belated debut, at the age of seven, and certainly wasn’t disgraced in finishing seventh behind Neptune Novices’ Hurdle favourite Bellshill.
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