cork 5th Jan
Cork puts on a seven-race card on Saturday featuring the McCarthy Insurance Group Handicap Chase.
Top-weight Sraid Padraig is sure to attract support moving into handicap company having contested some hot races, but recent winners Come To The Party and Saoirse Dun both come into this in fine form and might have it between them, with further progress from both entirely possible.
Racing begins at 12.10 with the McCarthy Insurance Group Hurdle, in which a number of smart performers line up, not least the Willie Mullins-trained Blackstairmountain, a class act over both fences and hurdles.
The eight-year-old, twice a winner at Grade One level, finished second to Staying Article over course and distance in mid-November when last seen.
The likes of Sailors Warn and Joxer will be expected to provide stiff opposition, while old favourite Fosters Cross still appears to retain plenty of enthusiasm for the game and rates another interesting contender.
Mullins looks to hold strong claims in the McCarthy Insurance Group Maiden Hurdle, this time with Dougal Philps, a useful performer on the Flat who was heavily backed prior to finishing fifth on his hurdling debut at Gowran Park last month.
However, he has a bit to find with Pacelli Road, who finished second that day, while the highly tried One Fine Day adds further interest to an intriguing affair.
The McCarthy Insurance Group Mares Handicap Hurdle looks competitive fare at first glance but closer inspection would suggest Milestone Miss is on the upgrade following her improved showing when second at Limerick recently.
Terminal should prove a tough nut to crack in the McCarthy Insurance Group Beginners Chase following his highly promising fencing debut second at Fairyhouse, while another with the Mullins operation, Andiamos, rates the best of those declared for the concluding McCarthy Insurance Group INH Flat Race.
Hurricane Fly could face strong opposition in this year's BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle after he headed a quality entry of 14 for the race at Leopardstown on January 27th.