Leopardstown: Owega Star can gallop to bookies’ rescue and spoil party for Foxrock

Barry Connell wants winner at local track but it may not be this time

Owega Star, seen here winning the Tara Hurdle in Navan two years ago, is versatile and can exploit clean round of jumping to the full. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Owega Star, seen here winning the Tara Hurdle in Navan two years ago, is versatile and can exploit clean round of jumping to the full. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

If ever a favourite’s name is fit for big-race success at Leopardstown it is Foxrock in the €190,000 Paddy Power Chase but Owega Star could yet gallop to the bookies’ rescue in the most valuable race on the holiday programme.

With 28 lining up for the three-mile test, a clear round of jumping and luck in running will be vital and that is something Owega Star certainly didn’t have on his last start in Navan’s Troytown Chase behind the ill-fated Balbriggan.

The Peter Fahey-trained runner was badly hampered at the third fence and was fighting a losing battle from then on although at the line only Balbriggan was ahead of him.

Another Dublin suburb is generally regarded to be the main stumbling block to every other Paddy Power hope and even after being landed with topweight, Foxrock is still the horse around which much of the pre-race thinking is likely to focus.

Local track

Barry Connell

A third to Carlingford Lough in last year’s Grade One Topaz preceded a pair of Grade Two wins that sent Foxrock to Cheltenham as something of a ‘good-thing’ in many eyes for the four-mile National Hunt Chase.

The 3-1 favourite travelled like a winner for much of it but a mistake two out had Foxrock struggling and he wound up ninth.

This is another big-race target the Ted Walsh-trained horse looks to have sound claims for, especially on the back of a run at Punchestown earlier this month in which Foxrock was third to Grand Jesture, a performance the stewards quizzed Walsh about afterwards.

It emerged at the enquiry the horse had lost both his front shoes and finished slightly lame but it was a run that oozed promise in the context of a Paddy Power Chase which Walsh won with Colbert Station a couple of years ago.

He’s back for another crack, as part of a half-dozen strong team of runners carrying JP McManus’s colours, and while being at the top of the handicap is hardly a plus for either of the Walsh runners, especially on testing ground, in Foxrock’s case it’s still possible to argue he could be potentially well-treated in terms of his long-term potential.

The weight certainly looks less of an issue with him than with Colbert Station and it’s little surprise Tony McCoy has opted to side with Groody Hill, which lost his comeback hurdles victory at the Turf Club a couple of weeks ago due to a positive drugs test and now has first-time blinkers.

Something to prove

Mark Walsh

Owega Star’s jumping is fundamentally sound and it was bad luck that plagued him in the Troytown when hampered early. The seven-year-old appears versatile in terms of ground and has indicated he prefers going left-handed. An 11.3 weight hardly means he is thrown in but he has only been put 4lbs for a fine effort at Navan and with so many looking at Foxrock there could be each-way value elsewhere.

Those looking for a real long-shot could do worse than examine Klepht’s claims but given the usual luck in running, Owega Star may be the Paddy Power answer.

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