Christmas Festival – Day 4
Just two runners will go to post for the feature race on the final day of the Limerick Christmas Festival, the Grade 2 Coolmore NH Sires Kew Gardens Hurdle (1.30).
Winner of the Boodles Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last March, Brazil finished second in a Grade 3 hurdle at Tipperary on his debut this season, and he stepped forward from that last time when he won the Grade 3 Fishery Lane Hurdle at Naas.
That is a race that is often a good pointer to the future, and Padraig Roche’s horse kept on well to come clear of Fil Dor, who won a beginners’ chase at Navan on his next run. JP McManus’ horse is an exciting young hurdler, and he could continue his progression this season.
His sole rival in the Coolmore NH Sires Kew Gardens Hurdle is No Looking Back. Winner of his bumper on his racecourse debut at Thurles last March, Oliver McKiernan’s horse wasn’t beaten far in a good sales bumper at Fairyhouse on his second and final run last season.
He got off the mark on his first attempt over hurdles too, back at Thurles four weeks ago, when he kept on well to win nicely. He will be encountering softer ground than he has encountered in any of his three runs to date, but he is another young promising horse from whom there could be more to come.
Brazil’s rider Mark Walsh will team up with the Eoin Griffin-trained Splashing Out 35 minutes later in the Racing TV Rated Novice Hurdle (in memory of Andrew McNamara). JP McManus’ filly put up a good performance in a maiden hurdle at Cork last month when she finished second behind Irish Point, who was only just beaten next time by Marine Nationale in the Grade 1 Royal Bond Hurdle.
Bred by Mrs Noreen McManus, she is by Walk In The Park and out of the Grade 3 winner Nadiya De La Vega and, still only four, she is another filly who has lots of scope to progress.
Marelly has been progressing nicely through the autumn, and Eoin McCarthy’s horse got off the mark over hurdles last time when he stayed on well to win a handicap hurdle at Gowran Park. He is proven in testing conditions, and he could progress again.
The Gordon Elliott-trained Benz, who just lost out at Cork last time to Meetingofthewaters, and Denis Hogan’s horse Desert Friend, are others who go into the race with chances.
The day opens with the Ryans Cleaning Event Specialists Veterans Handicap Chase (12.20), a race in which R’evelyn Pleasure and Sir Bob are likely to be towards the head of the market. R’evelyn Pleasure ran a big race at a big price on his seasonal return last time at Thurles, when he only gave best to Brandy Harbour. Sean O’Brien’s horse should progress from that run, his first run since May, and we know that he handles testing conditions well.
Sir Bob battled on well last time to get the better of Temptationinmilan in a three-mile-one-furlong handicap chase at Punchestown. The handicapper raised Robert Tyner’s horse by 6lb for that win, but it was his first win over fences, and there is every chance that he can step up again.
The Limerick Racecourse Vets Novice Handicap Chase (12.55) is a highly competitive contest in which recent Thurles winner Lizrona could go well, and the curtain comes down on the day and on the week with the Party Time Handicap Hurdle at 3.35.