Race of the Weekend 1– JT McNamara Ladbrokes Munster National
The late John Thomas McNamara was a legend of Limerick and it is one of the most fitting memorials to the brilliant jockey that his name is attached to one of his local track’s most important races.
The JT McNamara Ladbrokes Munster National has a stellar role of honour befitting its status and prize money. Only two years ago, Tiger Roll took the spoils and he will be targeting a third consecutive Aintree Grand National next April.
Since then, Total Recall and Spider Web have prevailed, the former going on to harness a slew of top handicap prizes and go off favourite for the Liverpool feature.
Spider Web has had his health issues but everything came right for the Tom Mullins-saddled gelding 12 months ago, with Luke Dempsey galvanising his charge for a powerful finish.
No doubt that the happiest man in the place was owner JP McManus however, given the close bond there had been between the two proud Limerick men, with McNamara steering a number of McManus’s charges to major triumphs.
McManus has six contestants on this occasion, including last year’s hero, but another local with significant chances is trainer Eric McNamara. The Bruree handler won this race 20 years ago with Kaselectric and legged up John Thomas on many a winner over the years.
Gwencily Berbas and especially Black Scorpion should go very well but Internal Transfer might be of most interest, given his preference for soft underfoot conditions and an obvious liking for the track, with three wins from three runs.
Race of the Week 2 – Tote Irish Cesarewitch
Good luck with this one! It is always competitive but seems even more packed with talent this year, the 18 runners having accumulated 61 wins between them. A number of them, including the Peter Fahey-trained Shamad and Gavin Cromwell’s Lever Du Soleil have built up a string of successes, the latter especially benefitting from some astute placing.
Saglawy tops the weights for Willie Mullins, Jared Sullivan and Colin Keane and must be respected, with the soft ground certainly welcome, while Davids Charm is another in a fine run of form, pursuing his fourth win on the trot after landing Grade 3 honours over hurdles at Tipperary last week. The run started with a handicap win on the level at Killarney on soft ground over 1m 6f and though Chris Hayes was on board that day, Gavin Ryan takes a valuable five pounds off this time around.
John Kiely’s horses have been in rude health in the past month, with five winners from his last 11 runners starting with Rock De Baune at Listowel on September 12. The progressive five-year-old goes up eight pounds for that but the step up another two furlongs looks certain to suit the resolute stayer. So will the ground and Tom Madden has won on him twice already this term.
JP McManus could be in line for a sensational double!