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Thursday 14 December 2017

Luisant pushes for Ascot spot

JAMES NASH is to launch a last-ditch attempt to put Luisant into the equation for next week's Wokingham Stakes with an outing at Navan on Friday evening.

Luisant has been the star of the Curragh trainer's operation since he took out a licence but lies some way short of making the cut for the six-furlong handicap on the last day of Royal Ascot.

Placed in Group races and a winner of two Listed races during his career, the nine-year-old has been back in handicaps this season but finished a close second on his two most recent starts at Tipperary and Navan.

"He's going to run over six furlongs on Friday (the Follow Navan On Facebook Handicap), as he'll need a penalty to get into Ascot," said Nash.

"Hopefully, he'll win, and although I haven't looked at the entries, I'd expect him to win and pick up a 5lb penalty, which should get him there. To be honest, you'd want him to win if you had ideas of Ascot anyway.

"The only issue I have about next week is that he does like ease in the ground, and if there was any firm in the description at Ascot, then he wouldn't run. Good would be fine."

Andreas Wohler will be one of the few trainers not willing to let Frankel prevent him from having a runner in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The marvellous Frankel has built such a reputation that many good milers will be given alternatives to next Tuesday's Group One and he is likely to face a small field.

Wohler, a respected international trainer through the exploits of Paolini and Silvano, will bring Indomito across from his stable in Germany.

The six-year-old's form falls some way short of the class required for victory as he has only won at Listed level, but he has been placed in higher Group company, including when closing strongly for second behind the useful Alianthus on his reappearance at Dusseldorf.

"He's going to run in the Queen Anne, but I think I have chosen a difficult target!" said Wohler.

"He isn't Frankel, but he's a nice horse and hopefully we will be able to pick up some good prize-money."

Ainama carried the JP McManus colours to victory in a thrilling finish to the feature thetote.com Connacht National Handicap Chase at Roscommon.

Niall 'Slippers' Madden (pictured) looked to be travelling well on the 10-1 shot as they came into the straight in the extended three-mile contest, where Our Victoria was taking them along, but there were plenty of challengers queuing up to have a go.

Ainama held a share of the lead jumping the final obstacle and forged ahead of Our Victoria, who lost second place close to home as last year's winner Campbonnais put in a strong run. There was only half a length in it at the line.

Winning trainer Niall 'Boots' Madden said: "That was great, I'm delighted. He ran a nice race that last day at Listowel and he was a bit unlucky there.

"He loved the trip today. He is a handy horse, but these are grand fences around here. He will get an entry in the Galway Plate now and may go there. Niall gave him a great ride."

Mouse Morris's six-year-old Baily Green (100-30) put up a smart performance to dispose of some talented rivals in the Dermot Hughes Toyota Car Sales Novice Chase, following up a course-and-distance success from last month.

The favourite Absolutlyfantastic was his closest pursuer for most of the way but could not get near enough to challenge and lost second spot to Galloping Gander late on as David Casey eased home by four lengths on the winner.

Casey said: "He jumped very well. He was good and fresh today. He is such a good jumper and it's a big help around here as he was gaining lengths at every fence. He is progressing well."

Laganbank, who had finished second to Baily Green last month, made no mistake when sent off the evens favourite for the first division of the Roscommon Beginners Chase.

Ruby Walsh took it up going out onto the final circuit on Willie Mullins' charge, and though he wasn't clever at the second-last, the six-year-old readily beat market rival Cairdin by nine lengths.

The winning jockey said: "He was fit and well and I was happy to be handy on him. He handles better ground and I'd imagine he will be kept on the go now."

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