Shooting Light to shine bright
ON an intensely competitive last day, the Gold Cup looks much the best chance of an Irish Victory. Four Irish horses take their chance in the traditional cavalry charge that opens the day, the Elite Triumph Hurdle, but a mixture of inexperience and unsuitable ground could do for the main two.
Commanche Court has won his two hurdle starts for Ted Walsh but has a definite preference for give in the ground, while Stylish Allure has only had the one start, admittedly an impressive one, at Leopardstown two weeks ago.
The Triumph does have a reputation as a lottery but it will be a surprise if Richard Dunwoody's mount, Shooting Light, is not involved in the finishing scrap.
Trained near Bristol by Pat Murphy, brother of former rider and now television presenter Declan, Shooting Light is hardly the most experienced hurdler himself but he has won around Cheltenham and, importantly, has also won on good to firm ground.
His form is linked with most of the other market leaders, including when beaten earlier in the season by White Sea, but Murphy reports that Shooting Light has improved immeasurably from then when the horse tended to idle in stages of his races.
The ex-John Oxx trained L'Opera beat Kerawi on his jumping debut at Kempton but Kerawi is now 4lbs better off and could be a more resilient sort when faced with the final hill. Shooting Light, however, can be the most resilient of all.
On the ground, Urubande will attract hopeful support that he can turn a largely disappointing season around in the Bonusprint Stayers Hurdle but his somewhat wayward attitude has been the most disappointing feature of all and Trainglot, winner of the Coral Cup here last year, looks a better's value investment.
Manhattan Castle has disappointed in the past at this meeting but will surely never get a weaker race to contest than the Cathcart Cup. However, the ground could be a factor against him as against so many others and the safer option looks to be Sparky Gayle.
Unbeaten this season, Sparky Gayle hacked up at Ayr 33 days ago and before that had won at the stiff Carlisle track on firm ground.