THE first racemeeting at Cork racecourse in 2023 takes place this Saturday with a seven-race card getting under way at 12.27pm.
Charles Byrnes has his team in fine fettle at present and the west Limerick-based operator should keep his supporters happy by sending out Maidenstreetprince to collect the McCarthy Plant & Agri Sales Rated Novice Hurdle.
Maidenstreetprince, a graduate of the 2020 Goffs Land Rover sale, shaped with clear promise by coming third in a Ballinrobe in May of last year. The son of Kingston Hill has however shown notable progression over flights this winter and he indicated that he’s on a clear upward trajectory by returning third in a Punchestown maiden hurdle in November with the runner-up in that Co Kildare race Belle The Lioness then coming second to Liberty Belle in a listed Thurles mares’ novice hurdle before Christmas.
It wasn’t at all then surprising that Maidenstreetprince then won a Limerick maiden hurdle on December 28th when he led from before half-way with Byrnes’ talented son Philip to beat Sa Fureur by one and a quarter lengths, justifying a degree of market support in the process.
It’s worth recalling that Willie Mullins’ Shanbally Kid, an expensive £190, 000 stg purchase after his victory for Richard O’Brien in a Clonmel bumper last April, could only finish fourth to the Bynes inmate at Limerick.
Maidenstreetprince should continue in a victorious vein by showing a clean pair of heels to Jarlath Fahey’s Elusive Guy, who still held every chance in second spot when unseating two out in a Limerick conditions hurdle race won by Longhouse Poet on St Stephen’s Day.
The featured contest is the €22, 000 Racing Again March 23rd Handicap Hurdle over two and a half miles and Sean Doyle’s Lucky Max is the selection here.
The seven-year-old Lucky Max is a confirmed soft-ground specialist that’s already a three-time winner over hurdles. The German-bred posted one of his best ever efforts on his penultimate foray when finishing third to Watch House Cross in a €45, 000 handicap hurdle at Naas in late November. Lucky Max was then raised three lbs for that effort to a new mark of 129 and he more than acquitted himself last time out when coming home fifth behind Merlin Giant in a €100, 000 handicap hurdle at the Fairyhouse winter racing festival in early December.
Lucky Max should attain due reward for his consistency by accounting for Liam Burke’s mare Rebel Early, who finished a fine second to Global Equity at Thurles in early November only to then run a shade below-par on her two subsequent outings.
Gordon Elliot holds outstanding prospects of a two-timer and the Cullentra House Stables handler should record his initial success of the afternoon courtesy of Gallyhill in the Annual Membership Available Handicap Chase.
Gallyhill, winner of a Newbury novices’ hurdle in January 2021 when under the care of Nicky Henderson, has already posted two commendable placed efforts so far this season especially when coming second to Big Debates in a two-mile Fairyhouse chase prior to Christmas. Gallyhill is likely to have most to fear here from Philip Fenton’s recent Clonmel second Carrolls Cottage.
Elliot should conclude the afternoon on a profitable note as his mare Working Away will take all the beating on her track debut in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF (Pro/Am) Flat Race.
Working Away was trained by Denis Murphy when creating a big impression by sluicing home on her career debut in a four-year-old mares’ maiden point-to-point at Tattersalls in late October.
The Workforce-sired Working Away was subsequently purchased for £330, 000 stg on behalf of Gigginstown House Stud at the Tattersalls (Ireland) November sale at Cheltenham and she should oblige at the first time of asking for her new connections by returning to the number one slot at the expense of Ken Budds’ recent Fairyhouse runner-up Tilloughna.
Bandon-based handler James Dullea’s Hard Rain looks the part in the Quays Bar & Bistro Fermoy And The Stables Bar Carrigaline Beginners Chase over two and a half miles.
Hard Rain, a former point-to-pointer incidentally, has proven himself to be a model of consistency in recent times and a reproduction of this third-placed effort in a Naas two-mile handicap chase last month should be good enough to see him denying Trishknowsbest.