THE three-day Easter festival takes place at Cork this weekend, running from Saturday through to bank holiday Monday.
There’s a flat card on Saturday and jumps enthusiasts are well catered for on Sunday and Monday. Point-To-Point fans will surely be attending en-masse on Monday as there are three hunter chases and two point-to-point bumpers down for decision.
Proceedings commence at 1.40pm on Saturday and it’s the Grade3 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Noblesse Stakes over an extended one and a half miles that occupies centre stage.
It should pay to row in behind Lismore in this €47, 500 contest. Lismore developed into a cracking staying filly last year for Henry de Bromhead with the crowning moment of her season coming when she benefited from Jamie Spencer’s assistance to easily beat Ranch Hand in the Grade 3 Coral Henry II Stakes at Sandown last May. The daughter of Zoffany then finished a respectable fourth to Search For A Song on her final foray in a Group 3 contest at The Curragh in late September.
Lismore, who comes into this race with a 106 rating, should get her five-year-old season off to the best possible start by excelling from Barrington’s Court.
The Tote Always SP Or Better Race over an extended 10 furlongs for three-year-olds’ will also command plenty of attention as it could feature a couple of colts that may well hold valid classic aspirations later in the year and Wexford Native is bound to go very close if lining up.
The Jim Bolger-trained Wexford Native was most impressive on his only start to date as he forged clear inside the final 200 yards to beat Sun King by two and a half lengths in a Navan maiden with Kevin Manning on March 29th. That race was over a mile, the 10 furlongs of this contest is bound to suit and the Teofilo-sired Wexford Native is taken to continue his upward trajectory by getting the better of United Nations, a Naas maiden winner last September.
On Sunday (1.10 start), the feature is the Grade 3 BARONERACING.com Chase over three miles and the Willie Mullins-trained Melon is the definite class act here. Melon ran respectably when coming fifth to stable-companion Allaho in the Grade 1 RyanAir Chase at Cheltenham last month. Melon doesn’t have any Allaho types to contend with here and the former Cheltenham Champion Hurdle runner-up should get his career back on track by beating The Shunter.
The main supporting contest is the BARONERACING.Easter Handicap Hurdle and Au Fleuron is the one to row in behind here. The Gordon Elliot-trained Au Fleuron acquitted himself on his most recent start by finishing seventh in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival, having previously come third at Nass in mid-February. Au Fleuron has Quirt Evans to beat here.
The Jim Ryan Racecourse Services (Pro/Am) Flat Race closes proceedings and John McConnell’s Grand Soir should step forwards from his second-placed effort in a Limerick bumper last month by denying Don Chalant.
Meanwhile, Gordon Elliot’s Deeply Superficial should make a winning track debut in the Cork & Waterford Mares’ Point-To-Point Flat Race on Monday (1.50 start). Deeply Superficial was most impressive when winning a Lingstown four-year-old mares’ maiden for Matthew Flynn-O’Connor in December and she should have most to fear from Knockraha Lass.
Terence O’Brien’s Ik’s Man could spring a surprise by beating Corbetts Cross in the Pegus Horse Feed Point-To-Point Flat Race.