Limerick facing inspection ahead of Sunday’s programme

Priority for jockeys will be to emerge unscathed before the trip to Cheltenham

Limerick faces a 4pm Saturday inspection ahead of Sunday’s meeting. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Limerick faces a 4pm Saturday inspection ahead of Sunday’s meeting. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

 

Ahead of Cheltenham there’s an inevitable sense of ‘Before the Lord Mayor’s Show’ about this weekend’s domestic action.

A trio of meetings could get reduced to two if Limerick doesn’t pass a 4pm Saturday afternoon inspection ahead of its Graded programme the following day.

Parts of the hurdles course were waterlogged on Friday and unfit for racing with further overnight rain forecast.

Despite a handful of Graded races, and valuable handicaps including the €80,000 Bar One Leinster National at Naas on Sunday, the aim for the country’s top riders will mostly be to get through the weekend unscathed.

Paul Townend, 2-5 to be leading rider at Cheltenham again next week, is easing into the biggest date of the year with a single spin in the opener at Navan on Saturday.

His nearest rival in the leading jockey betting, Jack Kennedy, has two rides at both Navan and Naas, while Rachael Blackmore will also be in action at both of those fixtures.

She takes over from Townend on the Thurles winner Harrie in the four-runner Grade Three novice chase at Naas.

The Willie Mullins team suffered a major pre-Cheltenham blow on Friday with confirmation that their top novice Energumene has to miss Tuesday’s Arkle after a setback.

The champion trainer has seven runners set to line up at Naas including the Leinster National topweight Class Conti.

He is joined by stable companions Blazer and Saturnas, although a threat to them all could lurk towards the bottom of the ratings in Rocky’s Silver.

The James Dullea runner was raised 3lbs in the ratings for a fine second over two miles at Thurles last time. However, the step up back up to three miles looks likely to be the eight-year-old’s considerable advantage.

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