Nine runners go to post for this very competitive and valuable handicap at Dundalk racecourse on Friday night. A stunning €24,000 fund is up for grabs and is has enticed a UK trainer to come over and have a pop. Read on for our full runner by runner guide and free tip.
IN SUMMARY: The UK raider Gentlemen has to be a very interesting contender as they wouldn’t come across the water just for the fun of it and it is Josephine Gordon’s sole ride of the night. However, they will all have to go some to beat PATRICK who looks well ahead of the handicapper based on his first Irish start where he won a shade cosily last time out. Pat Smullen takes over in the saddle and he should keep on improving.
1 GENTLEMEN – Very interesting runner who is coming across the Irish Sea for Phil McEntee and this is Josephine Gordon’s sole ride of the night at the track so they clearly mean business. The same combination and horse ran here in the summer over five furlongs and stayed on into 4th off a mark of 96 and he is two pounds lower here. He is a very solid campaigner on the all-weather with seven wins to his name from twenty-nine starts and looks sure to be thereabouts once more.
2 GREY DANUBE – Won here over seven furlongs when an un-fancied 20/1 chance last time out in the hands of the same claimer. He was also a course and distance winner back in December 2015 off a three pound lower mark and although he has a tricky draw coming wide out of Stall 8, he has to be respected. He has come right back to form after some poor efforts and could improve again on his latest run.
3 TOGOVILLE – Extremely versatile performer who loves Dundalk and he has won here over 5f, 6f, 7f and a mile so trip is no concern to this horse. He was second here off a mark of 92 in November and would have every chance if he could get back to his best but he looked out of sorts on his last two sorts so still has a bit to prove at present. A horse with such a fine course record can never be discounted though.
4 PATRICK – A winner of three races from nineteen for the Richard Fahey stable in the UK and he made the perfect start for new connections over this course and distance last time out, beating Geological in the hands of young ten pound claimer Mr Daly. Interestingly, Geological went on to win one of these massive handicaps in recent weeks so that form has worked out very well indeed. Pat Smullen takes over in the saddle, the best in the business, and he should take a lot of beating here tonight.
5 SHEPHERD’S PURSE – Good reliable honest performer who probably doesn’t win as many races as he should sometimes. He has been placed in three of his last four starts, all of which came here at Dundalk over either six furlongs or seven furlongs. He was over two lengths behind Patrick here last time out in third and although he is weighted to reverse the form, that runner looks progressive so he may well struggle to reverse the form. Looks sure to give another good account.
6 NORTHERN SURPRISE – Won in January last year off a mark of 81 but the handicapper still has a grip on him as he hasn’t run that well since and he is still off a mark of 86 here tonight. Although he was sixth here two runs back, he was only beat a length and he was only beat two lengths in fifth here last time out so he’s certainly not that far away but we’d like to see him come down another couple of pounds before considering him from a betting point of view.
7 ONEOVERYOU – Jockey Conor Hoban has won this race twice in the last three seasons so he knows what is required. He rides this course winner for the Mahon stable, a six year old mare who won by a short head here over the sharp five furlongs last time out off a mark of 74. She is going to find life a whole lot tougher off a mark of 82 tonight, which is by far a career high mark and although she comes here in form, she doesn’t offer much value.
8 RAPID APPLAUSE – O’Callaghan trained inmate who has a 350 day absence to overcome. The five year old gelding by Royal Applause has only tasted success once in his career and that came on debut at Cork over six furlongs on turf. Three runs here at Dundalk have resulted in three poor finishes and that looks the likely scenario once more.
9 SPLIT THE ATOM – David Marnane trained course and distance winner who will run off a lowly weight of 8-08 at the foot of the handicap. Good second here in January off a three pound lower mark and doesn’t look particularly well treated. He also has work to do to reverse the form with Patrick, back in fourth last time out.