november 'acid test' for Orgilgo
McConnell optimistic over Bay's chances at Leopardstown
John McConnell is optimistic the mile-and-seven trip will eke a bit more improvement from out of Orgilgo Bay in the ultra-competitive November Handicap at Leopardstown tomorrow.
The talented four-year-old gelding finished third in the Fred Winter at this year's Cheltenham Festival and recently occupied the same position at Punchestown, having previously won a nice prize at Listowel.
Thoughts now turn to the t60,000 first prize for the November Handicap, in which he races off a mark of 90 in the hands of Gary Carroll.
McConnell said: "He's dropped a good bit from his two-year-old rating, though that was probably a bit elevated.
"It's a new trip for him and we are hoping it brings about some improvement. He has come out of his Punchestown race very well. He's probably better than he was before it. We've just had him ticking over since.
"We've had this in mind for him, it just fitted in. I always wanted to try and have a go at a Flat handicap with him. This is the acid test. He's had excuses the times he has run disappointingly in Leopardstown before, but I've no concerns about the track.
"I know he runs well left-handed. We'll need luck in-running. There are very good yards represented.
Coolfighter has been in terrific form, rattling off a four-timer before finishing second at Gowran Park and at Fairyhouse.
Trainer Noel Dooly said: "I think he'll get the trip. A mile and two in Clonmel was plenty short for him and he was staying on over a mile and a half last time."
Last year's winner Sir Ector comes back for more. Johnny Murtagh rode him to victory 12 months ago, but he has joined the training ranks so Ronan Whelan takes the mount for James Lambe.
Murtagh now has his own runner in Eye Of The Tiger, who finished well down the field in the Irish Cesarewitch a fortnight ago.
Dermot Weld is double-handed with Hidden Universe and Hisaabaat, while Arthur Moore's Gentleman Duke is on a hat-trick after victories in a Ballinrobe handicap hurdle and a handicap chase at Cork.
Champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins is responsible for Digeanta and Clondaw Warrior, with Aidan O'Brien represented by Blue Hussar.