US raider Baltimore Bucko brings new dimension to Limerick

Stateside trainer Jonathan Sheppard has shipped a number of horses over to Ireland

Baltimore Bucko runs at Limerick on Tuesday. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Baltimore Bucko runs at Limerick on Tuesday. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

The opening race at Limerick on Tuesday could prove notable as Jonathan Sheppard, 25-times champion jumps trainer in the US, bids to saddle a first winner in Europe.

Sheppard, 80, is an Englishman who moved to the States in 1961 and has been described as “the most notable figure in American steeplechasing history.”

Sheppard is the all-time leader in the US in terms of wins and earnings but the coronavirus pandemic has led him to try something new this winter.

Half a dozen horses have been sent to Ireland to race and arrived to be based at James Doyle’s yard in Wexford just over a month ago.

One of them, the dual-Grade 1 winner Winston C, is being talked of as a potential Cheltenham contender in March.

However it is Baltimore Bucko that will bring some overseas excitement to Tuesday’s opener.

Irish jockey Ger Galligan, the leading jumps rider in the US this year, takes the mount.

Victory would be a landmark moment for Sheppard who saddled Flatterer to finish runner up to See You Then in the 1987 Champion Hurdle.

US jump racing was restricted this year due to Covid-19 and it has allowed the trainer explore something new.

“It’s a new angle, something we haven’t attempted before. We shipped the odd horse over there but have never done anything like this. It will be interesting to see how it all works out,” Sheppard, who is staying at home, told US media recently.

Galligan, 29, is originally from Kildare, and has trained winners on the flat and over jumps in America. However he is now the reigning champion jumps rider in the US.

Baltimore Bucko has won twice in the States but has to concede weight all round, including to the Clonmel winner, No Grey Areas.

Grand Roi cost his owners Noel and Valerie Moran a cool £400,000 during the summer and can recoup a fraction of that price in the Grade 2 hurdle feature.

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