Billyford Bids for Dundalk Four-timer
The Liam Roche trained Billyford is on course for a fourth successive victory at Ireland’s only all-weather track when he lines up in the www.dundalkstadium.com Handicap at Dundalk tonight.
This seven-year-old gelding has risen 16lbs since his first win of the sequence back in December and Roche seems to have found another decent opportunity for him tonight. Johnny Murtagh is reunited with Billyford for the third time after Declan McDonagh was given the responsibility last time out. Murtagh has a 100% record on this horse; admittedly after only two rides but the partnership have a 100% strike rate all the same. When we last saw Billyford he gave 16lbs and a half-length beating to Rockys Pride who has since gone very close in a rated race over seven-furlongs. With the likes of Banna Boirche, Duff and Luisant in the field, Billyford may have to knuckle down to secure the four-timer but judging on his previous runs he is certainly the one they all have to beat.
The seven race card opens up with an apprentice handicap over five-furlongs and this should be fought out by An Saighdiur and Felina. However, a horse that is capable of running well at a big price is the Austin Leahy trained Big Bad Lily who comes here after a break. Leahy’s filly by Big Bad Bob enjoyed a couple of successes over the minimum trip last season, one being over the course and distance of tonight’s contest. With Mark Monaghan taking off a valuable 2lbs it wouldn’t surprise me to see them go close.
Aidan O’Brien doesn’t have a terrific record in the early part of the season but it would be a major surprise of his Galileo filly Up gets turned-over in the second race on the card, the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Fillies Race. Up is 8lbs clear of her nearest rivals on official ratings and receives 13lbs from that particular rival because of the conditions of the race. Joey O’Brien is in the plate and anything other than a Ballydoyle victory will be an upset.
The third race on the card is a very competitive handicap over seven-furlongs and money for the Jessica Harrington trained Benzolden would be very interesting. Off a very low mark of just 47, this well-bred filly by Refuse To Bend has shown glimmers of ability, winning twice in the past and was once a 70 rated horse. Naked Cowboy, Translator and Kalacan are also interesting runners.
Sabrina Harty and Gary Carroll have a great chance of bagging a winner in the form of The Frog Prince, who runs in the fifth race, the firstname.lastname@example.org Handicap over two-miles. Rated as high as 97 over hurdles, The Frog Prince is down to a mark of 53 after a two-year layoff. He was well-backed on his return to the track and has gone close again since. He was once only 12-lengths off the mighty Quevega in a maiden hurdle before and he should go close over the marathon trip tonight.
The concluding two races could well go to the Fran Berry ridden Sweet Solitude who has some placed form in France and Dermot Weld’s filly Voleuse De Coeurs who runs in the colours of Lady O’Reilly.