CORK Sun: With the weather wreaking havoc on the fixture list at present and Down Royal’s Champion Chase meeting postponed until next weekend, Cork on Sunday is where we head in search of weekend winners.
⭕ The action begins with a maiden hurdle (11:50am) over 2m. There are several of interest in here, including Paul Nolan’s Maxi Mac Gold and Gavin Cromwell’s newcomers The Passing Wife and Juke Box Rock. However, Intent Approach showed plenty of promise when finishing second in a bumper at the Punchestown Festival in April and is taken to make a winning hurdles debut under Mark Walsh.
⭕ The second division of the 2m maiden hurdle (12:20pm) also contains some intriguing newcomers. Jigoro, a son of Free Port Lux who was placed on the flat in France, looks a likely type on debut for Gordon Elliott and is taken to make a winning start. Henry de Bromhead’s Time For Tea is one to track closely in the betting.
⭕ A 2m handicap hurdle (12:55pm) comes up next. Skradin was impressive when beating a well fancied rival from the Gordon Elliott yard at Fairyhouse last month, but the one to side with could be Showman. Peter Fahey’s runner also got the better of a Gordon Elliott-trained rival when winning on only his second start over hurdles at Roscommon last time out. The fact that the horse he beat there has since come out and won by 13 lengths suggests the form is worth following, and he could well make a winning handicap debut here off a reasonable looking mark of 107.
⭕ A big field of 18 are set to line up over 2m4f for the mares’ maiden hurdle (1:30pm). Henry de Bromhead’s newcomer, Banprionsa, is a fascinating runner having won her point-to-point by 22 lengths and could follow in the footsteps of Minella Melody who won this race in the same colours in 2019. Abi’s Champ showed considerable promise in four bumpers for Willie Mullins last season and must be respected.
⭕ Listed action follows, with a 3m novice hurdle (2:05pm). There have to be concerns about What Path on ground that is likely to be testing, so he is passed over in favour of Declan Queally’s Desert Heather. This mare has a consistent profile and has won her last two races, including when staying on strongly to get the better of the reopposing Solitary Man over the course and distance last time out.
⭕ The Grade 3 novice chase (2:40pm) over 2m4f features several young chasers that look to be rapidly on the upgrade. Power Of Pause, Perceval Legallois and Letsbeclearaboutit were all good winners on their respective chasing debuts. The last mentioned had the best form over hurdles, finishing fourth in the Albert Bartlett and the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle last season, and looked impressive when winning by five lengths at Gowran on chase debut. He motored through the heavy ground there and put five lengths between himself and a rival that has since gone on to finish second in the Munter National, so that looks like good form.
⭕ The Cork Grand National (3:15pm), a Listed race over 3m4f, is the feature of the day. Interestingly the last two renewals of this staying race have been won by seven-year-old novices, so it may pay to look towards lesser experienced chasers once again this year. The Liz Doyle-trained Flash De Touzaine has only had 10 starts over fences and has shown an aptitude of staying races like this, finishing third in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr when last seen. He’s won when fresh in the past and could still have some potential from a handicap mark of 130, so he gets the vote in a tough race.
⭕ A competitive looking 2m4f handicap hurdle (3:50pm) rounds off the card. It’s unlikely we’ve seen the best of Como Park over hurdles yet and Henry de Bromhead’s son of Camelot is taken to improve on his most recent third place at Punchestown last month.