Tandem is Weld’s hope for big handicap at Leopardstown on Sunday
Johnny Burke gets the chance to aim for Boylesports success
Dermot Weld will rely on star young jockey Johnny Burke for Tandem’s bid for success in Sunday’s €100,000 Boylesports Hurdle at Leopardstown. Photograph: Donall Farmer/INPHO
Tandem has run just three times in a jumping career that has come on the back of an accomplished record on the flat.
A beaten favourite on his debut over flights at the Galway festival, he easily won his maiden at Navan in September, but subsequently disappointed in Grade 1 company when only fifth to Nichols Canyon in the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse at the end of November.
On the back of those starts, he has been handed a 127 rating by the handicapper and Weld has elected to try and use that in a race for which he is a 14-1 shot with the sponsors.
“He’s a good horse with a decent rating and will have a good rider in JJ Burke, so the plan is to run,” said Weld, who nevertheless could pull the plug on a Boylesports attempt if ground conditions come up very testing at Leopardstown.
Weld won the race in 1999, when it was known as the Ladbroke, with the 25-1 Archive Footage who set a weight-carrying record under David Evans.
Tiger Roll currently tops the weights for the big hurdle on Sunday, ahead of today’s important forfeit stage, but the top of the betting market is dominated by champion owner JP McManus who landed a 10-1 Boylesports success in 2014 with Gilgamboa.
The Nick Henderson trained Snake Eyes is currently 7-1 favourite, with another McManus owned hope, Waxies Dargle, only a point longer while the Christmas course winner Shantou Ed is also prominent in ante-post lists.
No cross-channel trained horse has won this prestigious handicap under any of its sponsorship guises since Jenny Pitman’s Master Tribe scored in 1997.
The McManus team currently has eight of the 42 horses that can be left in the race today and four of the 27 left in the €100,000 chase on the same card.
They include the former Paddy Power winner Colbert Station but it is that one’s stable companion, the 2014 Paddy Power runner up Foxrock, who is rated an 8-1 second favourite in ante-post betting behind the Willie Mullins hope Djakadam.
Noel Meade has confirmed his Lexus winner Road To Riches, currently an 8-1 second favourite for Cheltenham Gold Cup glory in March, will miss the Hennessy and go straight to the festival.
“He’s going to have an easy January and we’ll start building him up again. If I had to train him for the Hennessy I’d have to train him for the whole month of January. Now I’m able to give him a break and a little time off,” the Co Meath trainer reported.
“That’s what I did before the [Galway] Plate, before Down Royal and before the Lexus, so I may as well do it again,” Meade added.