Finally, we have had some rain in Ireland, with a minor storm early on Friday morning and ample downfall to hit the country over the weekend. This is badly needed.
With temperatures nearly hitting 20 degrees celsius this week, the whole thing is clearly bananas, and global warming seems a greater threat than ever. Between now and the apocalypse, all we can do is strive for a few winners.
With Limerick’s two-day meet and a couple of other fixtures in Ireland this weekend, we are not short of options.
Sirjack Thomas’ trainer Johnny Murtagh has had his best season yet, though he has bemoaned that this one has generally not translated his homework to the track. Likely he will be overpriced here after a superficially modest run in a hot Leopardstown race and the key to him is the impending rain. He makes plenty of each-way appeal.
A Few Bob Short has been a model of consistency and deserves a winning turn. She ran into a very well-treated horse in Cacique Royale at Naas last time and he very much got first run. Essentially the Shane Ryder runner would have won on another day – and would not be just 1lb higher here. He has a huge chance.
Toor General’s trainer Tony Martin is rarely spoken about as the “handicap king” anymore and people probably forget what a talented trainer he is. He has some big runners this weekend and one of his best chances of a winner is Toor General.
The gelding suits Davy Russell, who inculcates confidence in the hold-up seven-year-old, and he did it pretty readily at Roscommon last time. A 5lb rise is unlikely to stop him in this moderate contest.
This is a really weak race and the temptation is to look for something at long odds with a little potential to spring a surprise – such as Vinabell.
A four-year-old Oscar filly, her dam, Labeille, was quite prolific over fences and also won over hurdles when moving to Ireland. This young Shane Nolan-trained steed looked a threat briefly at Navan last time before fading, but she has plenty of time on her side and shapes as though she will get better with experience.
3.15pm Navan: Lapilli
Lapilli could be a seriously well-treated horse. After winning twice in England, he moved to Damian English, who managed to train him to finish fourth in a rock-solid sprint handicap at Dundalk in September 2017 off 87.
Remarkably, after just three subsequent runs, he debuted for Denis Hogan a year later running off 69, having finished last on three starts for James McAuley.
He has not shaped badly at all since then and is now done to the high 50s. One has to forgive him a moderate run when favourite at Navan but he is worth another chance.
It is hard to believe that Chelkar is available at double figures here. He was just 5-1 in the Ascot handicap at the Royal meeting and shorter again at Galway – in a race in which the stable provided the first two – when clearly not running anywhere near his best.
He was really keen at Ascot and did remarkably well to finish second. Willie Mullins is the dominant force in both Cesarewitch races this weekend and the best value by far seems to be this son of Azamour who, it should be noted, has the help of Colin Keane too.