Johnny Ward's Irish Angle: It all adds up to Bitsandpieces

By Johnny Ward
Sun 16 Dec 2018

Horse Racing Ireland’s budget for 2019, approved this week, "prioritises racecourse development, prizemoney, integrity and equine welfare, industry training and education, broadening the interest of the sport, and point-to-points".

Significantly, prize money will rise by €2.9 million to a figure of €66.1 million, a pretty notable feat given it is perfectly respectable as it is.

The association's press release says that the Curragh will open in April, although no reference is made to the new parade ring, necessitated because of a miscalculation regarding the size of the original one.

The statement added that "2019 will also see Irish racing embark on a television advertising campaign for the first time in over a decade".

Racing TV will be well in place by then and the new channel's viewers will be looking forward to cracking cards like Navan's on Sunday.

Sunday selections:

2.05 Navan: Stowaway Forever

Philip Dempsey, an underrated trainer, has been flying of late, thanks mainly to Mr Diablo and Dinnie’s Vinnie, but Stowaway Forever has plenty of talent too and should be winning more often than he has.

He likes Naas, so this track should suit, and he was smashed in the betting last time when the trip looked too sharp, suggesting this one will suit more. He should be thereabouts.

2.35 Navan: Bitsandpieces

Mick Winters has his horses among the winners and the step up in trip will be a major help for the top weight here, who does not look badly handicapped.

He jumps well for one so inexperienced, Donie McInerney is excellent value for his claim and he looks a safer bet than Allee Bleue, admittedly an intriguing stable-switch-angle horse, though it is not as though Philip Hobbs cannot make them move.

Saturday selections:

1.50 Fairyhouse: School Boy Hours

Dunvegan and Column Of Fire, for two, ought to have no problem winning a maiden hurdle but likely they will have a problem beating School Boy Hours.

Finians Oscar's half-brother ran a blinder on his Rules debut and took the eye on his return at Naas, when strong at the line behind an all-the-way winner.

He was due to take on Tornado Flyer last Sunday but was scratched and it may work out all for the better. He should take a lot of beating here for the in-form Noel Meade, with Mark Walsh in the plate.

2.25 Fairyhouse: Clementina

Her sire, Walk In The Park, was hugely in vogue when Douvan and Min came along, but has since produced little else of note in Ireland.

Clementina may be able to provide Walk In The Park with a winner here for Tony Martin, who has hit a reasonable bit of form.

Rider Eoin O'Connell is an excellent asset in a race like this. The mare shouldn’t need to improve on her Cork run to get involved and I am convinced she has more to offer.

3.00 Fairyhouse: Alpha Indi

A recruit from Britain, sent off a relatively short price, ran no sort of race on Thursday for Gordon Elliott at Tramore, but Alpha Indi looks a more likely proposition.

Consistent enough without winning in Britain, what is especially eye-catching is that he was second to a good yardstick, Nicole's Milan, on his debut in a point in 2016.

He could be a canny purchase by Tom Malone for small money, with Elliott entrusted with improving him off a modest mark in a poor race.

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