THIRD OUTSIDER IN THE FRAME AT DOUBLE FIGURES: After winners at 10-1 and 20-1, Shamrock’s sole Outsider bet, Hunting Tower (3rd 10-1), gave him a third consecutive return at big odds yesterday. There are two more today.
WATCH FOR THOSE RARE LAYS: Shamrock opposes a lot of short-priced horses but rarely with his hard-earned money! When he does, as with Archie Boy yesterday, you can be sure the horse is a big thumbs-down. Archie Boy was only 10th of 13.
It’s the men’s doubles at Bellewstown. Local Co Meath trainers, John McConnell and Ger Lyons, who both landed doubles on the first-day Flat card on the course on Friday, are head-to-head for three races in a row at the mixed meeting there this afternoon.
McConnell has booked a trio of top young riders, joint apprentice-champions Ben Curtis (Friend Request 2.20) and Gary Carroll (Black N Brew 3.20) plus Shane Foley (Shellin Star 2.50).
Both trainers make life difficult for punters: McConnell has Friend Request and Shellin Star making their first racecourse appearance; Lyons puts blinkers for the first time on The Resistance (2.20) and Passion Planet (3.55). You know one or more of these horses will trouble the judge but it’s pure guesswork which one to be on as far as betting is concerned.
But I’ve settled on an old punt at a big price on Shisha Threesixty (2.50), which Lyons ran at the Curragh last season against a one-two you might just have heard of: Roderic O’Connor and Master Of Hounds.
’Shisha’ has been kebabed since (sorry, gelded) and there was money for ‘him’ at Roscommon last month in the race won by Sportsmaster, when the first three were rated 78, 75 and 73.
The last three winners of today’s race were rated 58, 70 and 77: Edenshaw (off 81), Jouster (77) and Oh What A Kitten (77) have obvious chances but have totted up 19 races without success and are beginning to look exposed.
Limerick has added a Galway Plate Trial (4.35) to its jumps card; whether that was a good idea has already been answered with a trappy field of 18, including Galway novice-chase winners Skip Two and Montero and the Galway ever-present King Ali.
The knockers are saying it’s nowhere near Plate level, but Jessica Harrington has Got Attitude about that! After his success on the course in the autumn – King Ali and Montero behind – her Beneficial gelding is a Plate fancy and likely to lead the market this afternoon.
Got Attitude could do with some cut in the ground and may find one or two of these too fast for him in the conditions, notably King High, a firm-ground specialist, back to chasing for the first time since he won at Tramore last summer.
That could revive him today and, with chase and hurdles form on firm 1112P1, I’m hoping they haven’t watered too much.
Eoin Doyle runs another firm-ground horse, For A Finish (3.05), and I’m working on the basis that one of them will win me some money.
For A Finish’s form on firm since last summer is 2312 and he’s 11lb lower over hurdles than for fences. Today’s market rivals all look vulnerable.
Teak is still learning the game at only four years of age; Ponmeoath just the opposite at 11; Resolute Bay high in the weights now and with the form let down by my lay of yesterday, Archie Boy; Compton Court a glass horse, who runs once a season but too much for Missgiloney last time. It’s, surely, all set up For A Finish!
NAP: Tom Horn (5.25 Bellewstown)
NEXT BEST: For A Finish (3.05 Limerick)
OUTSIDERS: Shisha Threesixty (2.50 Bellewstown), King High (4.35 Limerick)
DAQ TRIO: Jumbo Rio (2.35 Limerick), For A Finish (3.05 Limerick), Tom Horn (5.25 Bellewstown)