This transitional period in the racing calendar, with the flat turf season nearing its conclusion and the jumps fare ratcheting up a notch, can often prove something of a minefield for punters and those considering a bet at today’s two Irish cards must ask themselves a couple of important questions.
For the action on the level at the Curragh, which horses already look like they potentially have had enough for what has admittedly been a truncated campaign, particularly faced with testing ground? And at Limerick’s jumps fixture, where the JT McNamara Munster National tops the bill, which of those making their return from a summer break are likely to be most forward for today?
In the end for today’s pick I’ve decided to side with one for whom there are no concerns on either score in the shape of Drifting Back, who lines up in the three-mile handicap hurdle at the latter venue at 15:00.
Conditions to suit and stable have a good record in the race
This locally-trained six year-old has been something of a slow burner but he comes here on the back of a breakthrough victory in a confined maiden hurdle at Ballinrobe in August. That represented a fine piece of placing by Eric McNamara, as not only was it a €20,000 race but the Stowaway gelding’s handicap mark of 104 was left untouched despite what was ultimately a fairly comprehensive defeat of Rippon Lodge and company.
Both the opposition and underfoot conditions will be much more demanding this afternoon but Drifting Back gets in nicely at the foot of the weights and has a good effort to his name on similar going over course and distance last November.
It’s also worth noting that McNamara has a good record in the race, having captured it twice in the last six years, and with the Betfair Sportsbook paying four places he looks a solid each-way bet at 13/2.
When I went through the Paddy Power Irish Cesarewitch after declarations on Friday two horses stood out in what doesn’t appear to be the strongest edition.
Run For Mary was always likely to be amongst the market leaders given how well her second to Princess Zoe at Galway has worked out but the other, last year’s impressive winner Royal Illusion, was surprisingly put in at a double-figure price initially despite a very eye-catching seasonal bow on Irish Champions weekend. That anomaly has long since been corrected though (100/30 now) and therefore unless you are already involved it’s really a race to watch.