a time to be brave; Mullins to win with Wicklow & Stratum; IRISH RACING.
Byline: PETER O'HEHIR
CHAMPION VETERAN Ten-year-old Wicklow Brave is odds on in Listowel 4.10 STRATUM and evergreen Wicklow Brave look short-priced bankers for Willie Mullins in Listowel tomorrow, the first day of the track's seven-day festival.
Mullins (inset) always sends a formidable team to Listowel. And 145-rated Stratum, whose two hurdle wins have been achieved at Galway and Ballinrobe, should have a straight-forward task in the Kerrymaid Hurdle, a race Mullins won with 1/16 shot Wicklow Brave last year.
2 A classy flat performer (he won the JLT Cup at Newbury off 92 last year), Stratum coasted to an easy win in a minor event at Killarney last time, having finished a creditable ninth (beaten little more than eight lengths) behind Tudor City in Guinness Galway Hurdle.
s) the And, prior to that effort, he was a beaten favourite in the Northumberland Plate in Newcastle.
Significantly superior to his four rivals here, he should justify long odds-on favouritism.
Veteran Wicklow Brave, a Grade 1 winner over hurdles and successful in the 2016 Irish St Leger, should be tough to beat when he bids to retain his unbeaten chasing record in the Cheestrings Novice Chase.
He belatedly embarked on a chasing career at the age of ten when scoring at Ballinrobe last May and followed-up when making all in a Grade 3 in Galway, beating Jan Maat readily by six lengths.
Wicklow Brave meets Jan Maat on 5lb. worse terms here, but should confirm that form with Rachael Blackmore's mount.
The Mullins team will also have high hopes for Ask Susan in the featured Kerry Group Handicap Chase, which boasts a prize-fund of [euro]40,000.
This mare finished third to Moyhenna in a valuable mares handicap chase at the Punchestown Festival and last time chased home Great Trango in the Grade B Shopping Centre Handicap Hurdle in Galway.
Fes hGH Back over fences, she has obvious claims here off 125, with champion-jockey Paul Townend on board.
o w Tow Previous hurdle winners Hereia and For Everyone set the form standard in the opening Kerry Group 3-Y-0 Hurdle.
But I've been looking forward to seeing Joseph O'Brien's A Wave Of The Sea over hurdles since the first day I saw him, in Dundalk and I'll side with him to make a successful debut over obstacles.
Officially rated 82 on the flat, A Wave Of The Sea looks an ideal candidate for hurdling and, given a fluent round of jumping, has rock-solid claims here.