2013 starts the same way it ended for Irish racing – with a double header featuring Tramore, writes Martin Pennington. The listed Holden Plant Rentals Chase, a listed race over 2m 5f takes centre stage and is the most prestigious race at the Waterford venue, here are my tips for that and the other races on the card:
Eoin Doyle’s record at the track is no secret and he saddles the consistent Bell Weir for Paul Holden in the opening Maiden Hurdle. A winner last time out of a 2m Cork Bumper having previously been placed twice from his other four starts in bumpers, the last three of which have been for Doyle (previously with Joseph Tuite in the UK) he looks capable of making the step forward at the expense of two raiders from leading stables – those of Willie Mullins and Tom Taafe, both of whom are making their hurdles debut in this.
The formerly useful flat horse Popmurphy makes his third start in handicaps for Ross O’Sullivan in this 2m Novices Handicap Hurdle and having placed on each of his last four hurdles starts, including last time out when beaten 3 ¼ lengths by Lough Roe Lady up at Thurles in November he is taken to get his head in front at the fifth time of asking here. A number of those in behind that day have run well since and the booking of the champion jockey Davy Russell is a notable positive and he should be hard to beat here.
Charles Byrnes saddles the thrice raced Milborough here and the son of Milan who’s been held up in all three of his hurdles starts so far looks highly likely to appreciate the step up to 2m 5f in this. He’s been off the track for over a year so fitness is taken on trust but he handles conditions well and should give a good account of himself.
This handicap hurdle over 2m 5f could well go the way of local trainer John Kiely who saddles the mare Kilnafrehanstar. The daughter of Dushyantor has shown promise in her six starts to date, most notably two starts back when runner-up to the heavily backed local runner Roadtoabbeyfeale in a 3m Maiden Hurdle on heavy at the Listowel Festival back in September. The selection travelled notably well that day and with the winner scoring in handicap company since and with a number of those in behind also franking the form off higher marks Kilnafrehanstar looks likely to prove exceptionally hard to beat under Paul Townend back on her favoured heavy ground in this.
Although a well beaten fifth as favourite in this last year Roi Du Mee is taken to put things right in the 2013 renewal, coming into the race on the back of three successive victories including in a Grade 3 Chase at Punchestown back in October, since then he’s scored in a further listed chase under today’s jockey Davy Russell and also in a handicap back over hurdles under promising amateur Jane Mangan off a 30lb lower hurdles mark.
The Book Thief is one of the most experienced in the field when it comes to chasing having had seventeen starts thus far but his form is solid enough in this grade and he numbers good runs behind the likes of Dazzling Susie and Raz De Maree to his name in addition to a number of useful efforts over hurdles and a point win as a 4yo. He’s been largely disappointing since chasing home Raz De Maree in a Beginners Chase on soft at Wexford back in August having had just the two starts since with both resulting in heavy defeats in handicap hurdles, failing to beat any of his nineteen rivals in those races but he’s taken to bounce back here.
Big Jemmy has had fewer starts under rules than many his age with just fourteen since making his debut in a Gowran Park bumper in March 2008. He’s since mixed pointing, chasing and hurdling and clearly has a liking for this course having taken this race in 2012 and having finished second on his only other start here behind todays rival Kilmurry Kid back in October. Underfoot conditions are scheduled to be identical for the 2013 renewal as they were in 2012 and Big Jemmy is taken to record back to back victories in the race for her trainer John Walsh.