A field of 16 have been declared for Saturday’s Bar One Racing Bellewstown Handicap Hurdle.
The feature race carries a value of €45,000, with a €25,000 bonus on offer if the winner lands the Galway Hurdle later in the month.
Local trainer John McConnell is two-handed with Scottish Champion Hurdle winner Anna Bunina and Play The Game among those declared.
Gordon Elliott’s The Tide Turns is another sure to be on many shortlists. The four-year-old was fancied for the Boodles Juvenile Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival earlier in the year but never landed a blow. He’s been keeping good company all year since winning his maiden hurdle back in January, and a repeat of his fine third in Grade 2 company at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival would see him go very close.
Noel Meade and Bryan Cooper seem to be teaming up more regularly in recent weeks. Too Bright represents the pair in Saturday’s feature, and off bottom-weight has to be worthy of consideration. He travelled strongly at Kilbeggan on his latest start, before fading to finish third behind Dark Spark. Michael Winters charge, the first foal of top-class mare Volar La Vedette, received a 7lb rise for that Kilbeggan win and merits consideration.
John Ryan’s Tipperary team have been quiet over the last fortnight after enjoying a fine start to the summer campaign. Gaelic Arc has notched up back-to-back wins in maiden and novice company, and this represents a much stiffer task. The Little Yank has been a superb servant for connections and can be depended upon to run his usual solid race but is probably vulnerable to a more improving type.
The Bar One Racing Bellewstown Hurdle was won by Winner Takes Itall twelve months ago. The Joseph O’Brien-trained winner was strongly fancied to land the Bellewstown-Galway Hurdle Bar One Racing Bonus, and ran creditably to finish sixth behind Saldier at Galway. It is hoped that connections of the winning horse on Saturday will target the €25,000 bonus offered by Bar One Racing Chief Executive Barney O’Hare.
Commenting ahead of Saturday’s meeting, O’Hare said: “The Bellewstown Summer Festival is one of the social highlights of the summer in the North East region. This is the second year of a three-year partnership with Bellewstown, and we’re delighted to attach the Bar One Racing brand to a festival with such a rich history. We look forward to seeing a huge crowd on the Hill of Crockafotha this Saturday.”
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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article