herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Expect Stratum to go sky high

Montana Belle will begin her career as a novice chaser. Pic: racingpost.com
Montana Belle will begin her career as a novice chaser. Pic: racingpost.com

Owner Rich Ricci giving a positive bulletin on some of his stars like Faugheen and Douvan certainly whets the appetite as the evenings close in and the National Hunt season gets ready to slip into the next year.

Ricci revealed over the weekend that his team based with Willie Mullins are "the healthiest" they've been in some time and he is looking forward to his biggest squad for novice hurdles yet.

Ricci doesn't have any interest in the Galway meeting this afternoon but with his comments and the strong hand that Mullins has on the card without any of them carrying the Ricci colours, it is just a reminder of how formidable the Closutton outfit is likely to be this winter.

Harold Kirk and Willie Mullins went to 160,000 Guineas to buy Stratum at the sales last October and the four-year-old will have his first start since joining from John Gosden in the opening maiden hurdle.

A Windsor maiden winner on quick ground, the consistent type was rated 87 on his last Flat outing and with a sound round of jumping, he should be hard to beat here.

Contingency is a filly that has also has come from the Flat, having been bought for a more modest price. She opened her account at Tramore last month and given the conditions of the Deacy Gilligan Irish EBF Mares Hurdle, and that she only has 10st6lbs on her back, she can be another for Mullins and Ruby Walsh.

Henry de Bromhead's Montana Belle will begin her career as a novice chaser in the Colm Quinn BMW Beginners Chase and she would look to be one of the better bets of the afternoon.

Novice chasers from De Bromhead's are usually as good as foot perfect so the bigger fences should prove no obstacle for the mare who has the best form in the book, if you go back to her bumper and hurdling record. She was the highest rated of these over hurdles and should be able to transfer that.

Moyross is picked to win galwayraces.com Maiden Hurdle for Noel Meade and Seán Flanagan, while Jessica Harrington, who recorded a brace at Gowran Park on Saturday, can end today with a winner in the concluding bumper as Pocket Dial is preferred over Filly Mullins.

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