Racing returns to the west of the country for the second time this week, as Sligo stage a seven race all national hunt card tomorrow. As par for the course in 2012, it is a meeting that champion trainer Willie Mullins has some outstanding chances, and he could have no less than a four-timer.
The feature event of the afternoon is the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Hurdle at 3.40 and here he sets a poser by running two with son Patrick on Local Celebrity and Ruby Walsh riding Tango Banbou. The former has not run since last December when he easily accounted for Fair Of Cappamore in a maiden hurdle at Navan. The form of that race has not worked out at all, but the ease in which Local Celebrity won suggests that he is much better than the bare form implies. He can follow up here as Tango Banbou has no form on this type of ground and as a result he is passed over, but Ahyaknowyerself may run well at a decent price. A winner of a bumper at Wexford last July, he will appreciate this quicker surface.
Mullins saddles Dr Machini in the Guinness Mares Maiden Hurdle at 4.15 for Ann & Alan Potts. Although this daughter of Dr Massini has not jumped a hurdle in public to date, it will be a big surprise if she is not considerably better than her 14 rivals. A winner of a bumper at Fairyhouse last January, she was sent over to Aintree last month for a listed bumper, where she ran a blinder to finish fifth to Eleven Fifty Nine. The first three in that contest had previously filled the same positions in a similar event at Sandown, giving the form a very solid look, and there were no less than ten lengths back to the sixth at Aintree. She looks the nap of the day with the consistent Lough Roe Lady who is rated 109 looking her main opponent.
If the handicapper is right then Pickapocketortwo will take all the beating for Mullins in the Kennedy’s Bar Hurdle at 4.50. A winner of a maiden hurdle at this venue back in August, he put up his best performance to get the better of Ipsos Du Berlais in a conditions event at Thurles last November. Although he has not run since pulling up at the same venue last January, if his official rating of 139 is anyway near the mark the others have plenty to find. Archie Meade who won well at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival may give him his sternest test.
The opening Join The Sligo Racecourse Club Maiden Hurdle at 2.40 is a pretty uninspiring event with little in the way of form to go on. Tipping a horse that has not run since last October and who is making his hurdling debut may not seem the wisest choice, but with creditable opponents thin on the ground, Alexandr Nevsky gets the vote. The Tom Taaffe trained gelding was third to Madam Bovery in a bumper on his debut at this track last August, and he confirmed the promise of that effort by landing a similar event at Fairyhouse the following month when he beat Wall Street Wally. The second certainly did little for the form when running dismally at Kilbeggan last Friday, but Alexandr Nevsky again ran well on his third and final start to date. Sent to Cheltenham for a bumper at their Showcase meeting in October, he stayed on well to finish fourth to the Shark Hanlon trained Clondaw Warrior. A satisfactory round of jumping should suffice here, with fellow hurdling debutante Caballo De Marcus looking his main rival.
Fearnwood Girl has top weight for the 23rd May At Sligo Handicap Hurdle at 3.10, but this six-year-old should make a bold bid with Tim Carroll claiming 5lbs. All three of her career successes have come at this track, and she should certainly enjoy the prevailing ground conditions. Sorted was an impressive winner last time out at Cork and he must have a decent chance again, even if this ground is a concern, but a speculative selection goes to the Franics Flood trained Bobby John for whom Barry Geraghty is an eye catching booking. His recent form figures would not inspire confidence but he was a very impressive winner of a handicap hurdle at the Galway Festival last summer and this better ground could be the key to him.
The Follow Sligo Races Facebook Handicap at 5.25 is by far the most competitive event of the afternoon, and for many the bar or restaurant will be the preferred option while this event is on. For those who must get involved check if first reserve Theonewiththeleg gets into the race. He ran well when third to Six Stone Ned in a maiden hurdle at Ballinrobe last Tuesday, form which would give him a decent shout here. If he does not run handicap debutante Harangue is a very hesitant selection.
The concluding countysligoraces.com INH Flat Race at 5.55 should see Willie Mullins round off another good day at the office, as Sizing Tennessee should take all the beating. This son of Robin Des Champs also runs in the colours of Ann & Alan Potts and he made his racecourse debut in the valuable Tattersalls Ireland George Mernagh Memorial Sales Flat Race at Fairyhouse over Easter. Although beaten into fourth behind Clondaw Kaempfer that day, he had 15 rivals well behind him and he should appreciate this drop in class.