SHAMROCK Sat: Picturesque Bellewstown hosts the first of its eight seasonal fixtures on Saturday, with a seven-race card on the Flat.
The County Meath track is run left-handed and features fairly sharp turns, so it’s often an advantage to side with prominent racers here, particularly in sprints.
⭕ A maiden (1:20pm) over a mile starts proceedings. There isn’t much form to go on, with nearly half of the field making their racecourse debuts. Of those that have run, Jessica Harrington’s Love Mocha has probably performed best, after finishing fourth on her sole start at Dundalk in October. The winner of that race was subsequently sold to America and has run respectably in Grade 3 races since. Love Mocha led the field last time, and she may be able to put her experience to good use from a handy draw in stall two.
⭕ The next race is a handicap (1:55pm) over the same trip of a mile. Although without a win in seven career starts, Joseph Anthony Murray’s Master Garvey looked a winner waiting to happen when staying on strongly to finish third over 5f at Naas last week. He has the advantage of race fitness over most of his rivals, and should appreciate the significant step up in trip, having run quite well over 7½f at Bellewstown last September.
⭕ Another handicap (2:30pm) over a mile follows, and once again it looks a competitive affair with 15 runners set to take their chance. Perhaps four-year-old Elmos Fire can take a step forward. He’s beginning to look reasonably handicapped off a mark of 67 – finished a close second off 70 last season – and has form on soft ground. Rider Billy Lee has a good 15 percent strike rate on Andrew Kinirons-trained horses.
⭕ Only six are set to line up for the 5f rated race for three-year-olds (3:05pm), but it looks a competitive heat. Willie McCreery does well in sprints at this track and it could be notable that he fields twice-raced Lovejoy here. This daughter of Gregorian showed plenty of pace when making all the running to win on her first start over 5f at Naas last season. That suggests she should have no problem first time out, and the fact she did it on soft ground heightens her appeal, with conditions expected to be testing. If she can get to the lead again here, she could prove hard to pass.
⭕ Up next is a 5f handicap (3:40pm), where the well-treated Iva Batt looks to be of interest on her first start for trainer Ado McGuinness. She’s now four pounds below her last winning mark and has won when fresh in the past. All of this mare’s best form is on testing ground too, so she looks of strong interest with Ronan Whelan booked.
⭕ A significant step up in distance comes next, with a 1m6½f contest (4:15pm), which is sure to be a stamina sapping test in the conditions. Gavin Cromwell’s Theonewedreamof was a winner over 1m4f on the Flat last season and hasn’t been disgraced when keeping good company over hurdles this winter. This filly by French Navy was a good winner of a 2-mile handicap hurdle on soft ground at Punchestown at the end of January, and then a staying-on fourth at Thurles the following month. That recent race experience might give her and edge over her rivals.
⭕ A 1m4f maiden (4:50pm) concludes the card. The Gossiper has run in several high-level bumpers, but he may have to play second fiddle to Ger Lyon’s Star Kissed, who went close in two strong maidens last season. She was narrowly touched off over 1m3f at Killarney by a rival that when on to finish third in Listed class on her following start. That came on soft ground and, being by Sea The Stars, this filly should have no issues with the extra furlong. A repeat of her run last time would make her tough to beat.