SHAMROCK’S KERRY NATIONAL 1-2-3: Shamrock puts the slide-rule on today’s Kerry National at Listowel and comes up with three horses against the field, with his final choice one from last year’s winning stable.
It’s time for the full Monty. The Kerry National hasn’t thrown up an Aintree Grand National winner since Montys Pass won at Listowel in 2002 but it’s a strong race today.
The last six winners were all improvers, all with seven or fewer handicap chases on their CVs. Seven out of 10 had won or been placed last time out. Two more vital clues are that seven out of 10 had won or been placed at a previous Listowel Festival and the last nine winners had all raced within 50 days.
In the who’s-who of the race, Ruby Walsh has an amazing record, with four wins and a place from eight rides, and the guv’nor, Willie Mullins, has scored twice in the last five seasons.
Blazing Tempo: On which Ruby was second in a Grade A at the Punchestown festival, has since won the Galway Plate, stepped up to that trip for the first time.
It’s cost him a 12lb rise but, as an Accordion out of a Supreme Leader mare, and aged only seven, we can expect him to continue the climb up the chasing ladder.
Three more seven-year-olds have high hopes.
Bideford Legend: Another lightly raced over fences, has been hurdling this summer – including placed on today’s course – which is so often the route to a big-chase success these days, and has clearly been laid out for this.
Adams Island: The snag here is that he hasn’t been seen since a second at Cheltenham in April and this is his first run after moving to Paul Nolan’s Wexford yard. But the gamble of the race during the week, and has ‘no weight at all’, with the boy’s claim.
Of the rest, Alfa Beat was with the Bideford Legend stable last year when he won this. Despite running over hurdles for the main part since, he remains on 11lb more than his last year’s winning mark.
I can’t have the 10-year-olds Uncle Junior, second on the corresponding 2010 card in a beginners’ chase; Dancing Tornado, 6lb higher than when he ran second to Alfa Beat last year; or Ballyholland, though Andrew McNamara says he’s quietly confident.
Ballyholland and Lenabane are closely handicapped on recent Galway running but, though Ballyholland won a couple of Points over today’s trip on firm, both have been campaigned at 22 furlongs under Rules.
The English challenger, Minella Boys, who defied the storms to make the crossing – being turned back by high winds at one stage – seems sure to show similar determination in the race, and gets all of this trip and more.
But, like Adam’s Island and Church Island, he has a long absence to contend with. His form figures returning from a break are: 40F4. The pick of my three is Bideford Legend.
NAP: Bideford Legend (4.10 Listowel)
NEXT BEST: Bullock Harbour (3.35 Listowel)
OUTSIDER: Clare Glen (3.00 Listowel)
DAQ TRIO: Clare Glen (3.00 Listowel), Bullock Harbour (3.35 Listowel) and Bideford Legend (4.10 Listowel)