As lucrative pots go over jumps at this time of the year, they don’t get any bigger than the Guinness Kerry National (4.15) and today’s Listowel Harvest Festival showpiece has attracted a stellar cast led by the enigmatic but brilliant Yorkhill.
One of three runners for Willie Mullins alongside Some Neck and Pravalaguna, Yorkhill looked like a superstar in the making after winning the 2017 JLT Novices’ Chase before the wheels gradually came off.
Without a victory since that Cheltenham Festival success, the nine-year-old got his head in front in a conditions chase at Galway last month and carries top-weight (11-7) in this €200,000 contest under champion jockey Paul Townend.
It would take a bit of a leap of faith to have confidence in Yorkhill at this stage and the Closutton maestro is unlikely to end a drought in this event stretching back to 2006.
Gordon Elliott (left) has a typically strong hand with four runners but Ravenhill (10-3) is of particular interest under Denis O’Regan after his creditable fifth in the Galway Plate.
With just four starts over fences, it looks like there is plenty of improvement to come from the nine-year-old – six of the last ten winners have carried 10-4 or less – and he can add to victories in 2016 and ’17 for Elliott.
Of the others, the Enda Bolger-trained and JP McManus-owned Movewiththetimes is likely to head the betting in the three-mile contest having bounced back from a Galway Plate fall to score at Killarney last month and he commands respect.
Meanwhile, promising chaser Benruben was going in the right direction for John Nicholson and should take some stopping when reverting to the smaller obstacles in the MSD Animal Health Maiden Hurdle (5.25) on his first start for Joseph O’Brien.
There’s also racing on the beach at Laytown with their only meeting of the year attracting 14 runners from owners Melbourne 10 Racing, the majority trained by English raider Jamie Osborne, and connections seem intent on winning the handicap (4.35) that they sponsor. They saddle Osborne’s Monumental Man, Tom McCourt’s My Good Brother and John McConnell’s Bellick.
Elsewhere, Kilkenny trainer Ray Cody landed the biggest success of his short training career when Razoul (14/1) won the Lartigue Hurdle at Listowel under Donagh Meyler.
“I had it in my head that he could be a Galway Hurdle horse next year,” Cody said. “We’ll go for one of those big pots off a light weight. I only took out a licence at the back end of last year, and that’s my fourth winner. I have 12 and am happy to do it in a small way in a family operation.”