HASANOUR'S FINEST HOUR; Foley ride to kick-start great week for Halford.
Byline: RYAN McELLIGOTT
HIS team for next week won't be as sizeable as some of his colleagues, but Michael Halford could certainly be a trainer to follow at Ballybrit.
Already this month the trainer's team have amassed nine victories, and they head into one of the biggest weeks of the year in cracking form.
"We won't have all that many runners and it's not a place to go making up the numbers, but we have a nice team going there," said Halford (inset).
"It's a big week and is one of the highlights of the year, so if we could get a couple of winners it would be great."
Leading the trainer's challenge is Hasanour, who will bid for his third major handicap win of the season in Tuesday's Topaz Mile.
The five-year-old recorded his first win at Galway last year and has done nothing but improve since then. That level of progress is reflected in a rating of 105 but, despite a big weight, the Giant's Causeway gelding is expected to mount a strong challenge.
"The plan is to run provided the ground doesn't go to extremes and he's going there in very good form," added Halford.
"He's a fine, big sort and weight shouldn't bother him so the plan is for Shane Foley to ride again.
"He's a course and distance winner, which is important. If he runs his race he should give a good account of himself."
Later in the week, the trainer will be chasing another six-figure pot with Shadagann in Friday night's Guinness Handicap
He said: "He's a lovely horse who won a nice race for us at the Curragh on Derby weekend, and he's entitled to go for another premier handicap.
"I thought it wasn't the strongest race that he got beaten in at Tipperary early last month, and then he got four pounds for finishing second at Cork.
"He had been creeping up the weights, which was a concern, but he came good at the Curragh and he's just really enjoying his racing. He's a genuine horse who tries hard for you, and hopefully he'll represent us well."
Another member of his string that comes in for good mentio is Shannon Soul. The useful Dundalk maiden winner has a three-year-old handicap on Wednesday as his target.
Halford added: "He's quite a nice type and I think he came up against a good sort of Jim Bolger's in Algonquin, who beat him by a neck at Naas a few weeks ago.
"Wednesday's race looks ideal for him and, if he could match the form of his last run, he should be thereabouts."
Others that are likely to go to the track next week include Slipper Orchid, who is expected to acquit herself well in Thursday's Guinness Corrib Fillies Stakes.
The decent flat handicapper Castle Guest has a maiden hurdle on his agenda, while stable stalwart Rummaging is in line for Sunday's Ahonoora Handicap.
As ever, winners will be hard to come by next week, but the Halford string could well maintain their fine form over the coming days.
POWER PLAY: Hasanour and Shane Foley (right) win the Paddy Power Handicap at The Curragh