herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Keelaghan is a gem for Ruby

The formidable combination of Tony Martin and Ruby Walsh once again struck gold as Keelaghan ran away with the Kinsale Handicap Chase at Cork.

The 10-year-old was strongly supported and sent off the 11-10 favourite following success on his most recent National Hunt outing at Ballinrobe and Walsh always appeared confident he had matters in hand.

The gelding still had a few rivals in front of him turning into the home straight but Walsh coaxed him to the front on the run to the final fence and he kicked clear on the run-in to score by four lengths from Bachelor Affair.

"He was very unlucky in Galway and reversed the form with those that finished in front of him from there," said Martin.

"A good shower of lads own him, Dublin people. He has to have good ground as he has had a wind operation.

"There is a nice two-mile handicap for him in Cheltenham on the Friday of the Paddy Power meeting, so he could go there."

John McCririck wonders where the serious opposition to Frankel is going to come in next year's Classics following his demolition job in the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes.

Henry Cecil's brilliant youngster showed himself to be the undoubted king of the juveniles when easily winning the Newmarket Group One showpiece, tagged the two-year-old race of the century beforehand.

It was a performance that has seen him left a very short-priced favourite for the 2000 Guineas and Derby. The only downside for the racing pundit was that neither Dream Ahead or Saamidd palpably failed to show their form.

"It's the lack of opposition now. Who is going to take him on? It's 16-1 bar the one for the 2000 Guineas, so you wonder where the opposition is going to come from," said McCririck.

"Frankel was the only one who lived up to the hype. The other two didn't run their race.

"If you listened to John Francome on Channel 4 you could not have backed Dream Ahead, and Saamidd ran an absolute shocker.

"Not taking anything away from Frankel, it was a tremendous performance, but it was just two and a quarter lengths back to the Irish horse (Roderic O'Connor)."



CONNECTIONS

However, an eye-catching performance in Saturday's Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster could still see a shake-up in the colts' Classics for next season.

Kevin Prendergast is to send over his unbeaten Dunboyne Express to Town Moor and hopes his horse can give Frankel's connections something to think about.

"Frankel is very good and the second horse (Roderic O'Connor) is not too bad either," said the veteran Irish trainer.

"It's good to see horses like that around.

"We have a target now to see if we can keep up with them."

Casamento is another leading Irish juvenile and the Beresford Stakes winner is set to be supplemented for the Doncaster race at today's confirmation stage.

His trainer Michael Halford was also taken by Frankel's display at Newmarket.

"I was in Cork and I've only seen the re-run from halfway, but what I saw was very impressive," he said.

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