James Nash’s My Manekineko primed for Fairyhouse feature

Rochestown Stakes the next scheduled outing for trainer’s exciting juvenile T For Tango

Trainer Willie Mullins runs the two top-weights, Ivan Grozny and Thomas Hobson, in the Glascarn Handicap Hurdle at Fairyhouse.  Photograph: David Davies/PA

Trainer Willie Mullins runs the two top-weights, Ivan Grozny and Thomas Hobson, in the Glascarn Handicap Hurdle at Fairyhouse. Photograph: David Davies/PA

 

Willie Mullins pitches three horses into Tuesday’s €100,000 Fairyhouse feature but ground conditions could see him trumped by an old pal.

James Nash spent six years as Mullins’s stable amateur and famously rode Florida Pearl to his first ever success in bumper.

Now based on the Curragh, Nash’s own training career has seen him strike across the codes from Your Busy’s 2014 Kerry National victory to Stakes success on the flat for Luisant.

Earlier this month the exciting two year old T For Tango indicated Royal Ascot potential when making a winning debut at Naas but it is My Manekineko who will be the focus of Nash’s attention in the featured Glascarn Handicap Hurdle.

The eight-year-old has been a stable stalwart in recent years and will be having his 52nd career start today.

That he was able to get within less than nine lengths of Rashaan in a Grade Two Hurdle at Down Royal in November was initially used as a stick to beat that form although the subsequent exploits of Apple’s Jade and Petit Mouchoir ultimately cast it in a different light.

Unlike Mullins’s two top-weights, Ivan Grozny and Thomas Hobson, My Manekineko has never had any aspirations to be anything other than a handicapper although given good ground he is a highly effective one and circumstances look to be in his favour at Fairyhouse.

“He’s best going right-handed on good ground and he has a lovely racing weight (9.13.) He ran at Dundalk and ran too free but that should have put him right for this race,” said Nash.

First start

That Dundalk effort was My Manekineko’s first start since New Year’s Day when his ability on a sound surface was confirmed once again with a good run behind Superb Story at Musselburgh.

He can advertise his trainer’s versatility ahead of what could prove an exciting flat campaign with T For Tango who had champion jockey Pat Smullen singing his praises after a fine debut.

“He’ll go back to Naas on May 21st (Royal Ascot Trials Day) for a Listed race (Rochestown Stakes) over the same course and distance,” said Nash.

“Ascot is the dream and the boys (HLT Partnership) would love to have a runner there. Let’s hope he makes it,” he added.

Tuesday’s other valuable pot is the €55,000 novice handicap hurdle final in which Mullins has three more hopefuls headed by Bargy Lady while JP McManus will also have a trio carrying his colours.

The French recruit Sire Du Berlais is an interesting candidate on his second start now that he’s upped to three miles but softer ground could suit him better.

Most of Bargy Lady’s form is on very testing conditions, including her easy maiden success last time. However she did run a reasonable race behind Toe The Line on good going and the step up to three miles could bring significant improvement.

Patrick Mullins will aim to boost his chances against Jamie Codd in the race for the amateur rider’s title when he teams up with Dawn In The Park in the mares bumper.

He will also carry the Coolmore colours in the finale as On Raglan Road makes his debut. Codd will be on board the hurdles placed Cracking Smart.

The concluding act of ‘Grand National Season’ will be at Ayr on Saturday with the Coral Scottish National where Co Antrim-based trainer Stuart Crawford could have two runners in Fine Rightly and Baby Bach.

They are among 40 left in after the five-day stage while Patrick Griffin could also be doubly represented with Portrait King and Man With Van.

Last year’s winner Vicente is on target to run again while Nicky Henderson has the ante-post favourite, Premier Bond.

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