Ask Susan (nearside) winning at Tramore last month© Photo Healy Racing
John Nicholson has high hopes for Ask Susan in the Kerry Group Handicap Chase at Listowel on Sunday.
The mare was second twice at the seven-day festival 12 months ago and the County Kilkenny trainer reports her to be in rude health ahead of the two-and-a-half-mile feature following a recent victory a recent victory at Tramore.
“She’s in good form and we’ve kept her fresh for this race. I was tempted to run her in the Ulster Cesarewitch, but it was too close to this race,” said Nicholson.
“We’re looking forward to it. She ran twice there last year in bottomless ground. She came up against a good mare in the novice chase (Miss Eyecatcher) and was then second in a good Flat race (behind Coquin Mans).
“The trip will suit and the ground will be nice, I hope.”
He added: “She’s a lovely mare. I bought her for £1,000 and she’s done well for us, so I can’t complain about her.
“She’s a real family pet and we named her after my sister, Susan.”
A 15-runner field is headed by Conrad Hastings trained by Henry de Bromhead, who also saddles Deans Road All Hell Let Loose and Surf Instructor
Willie Mullins runs Steel Wave Gordon Elliott has Mill Quest and Noel Meade is represented by bottom-weight Jack Slade
Three recent winners do battle in the opening Kerry Group 3-Y-O Hurdle.
Elliott saddles Chief Justice who makes his debut for the yard after winning at Worcester for Richard Fahey, as well as emphatic Down Royal victor Smiling Eliza
The other major contender is Edward O’Grady’s Parisian who comfortably accounted for Smiling Eliza on his hurdling debut at Roscommon last month. Percy Veer will not be winning out of turn if coming good in the Charleville Cheese Maiden Hurdle for Eric McNamara and Paul Townend.
After four consecutive placed efforts over jumps, the six-year-old looked booked for minor honours again when unseating his rider at the final flight at Killarney a fortnight ago. He is up to winning a race of this nature.
Several last-time-out winners contest the Low Low Irish EBF Mares Handicap Hurdle. Perhaps the one to be on is Lockeen Girl who represents the father-son combination of Tom and David Mullins.
The Cheestrings Mares Novice Chase is an intriguing affair, with Willie Mullins seemingly holding the aces.
The champion trainer runs three of the 10 runners, with Townend seemingly preferring Camelia De Cotte to stablemates Miss Sapphire and Screaming Rose
Joseph O’Brien’s Dawn In The Park looks the chief threat.
Point-to-point victor Castletown Quary debuts under Rules in the concluding bumper for Eoin Griffin, but significant support for Mullins-trained newcomer Scaglietti would be ominous.