2019 Listowel Harvest Festival tips – Race-by-race selections for day one of the Irish autumn highlight

Willie Mullins could enjoy plenty of success on day one of the Listowel Harvest Festival.

Willie Mullins could enjoy plenty of success on day one of the Listowel Harvest Festival.

Brian Healy gives his race-by-race selections and best bets for the first day of the Listowel Harvest Festival.

Featuring on Sunday’s UK and Irish horse racing schedule of fixtures is the first day of the Listowel Harvest Festival meeting, a week-long fixture at the County Kerry track and the latest in line of big Irish racing festivals which includes the Guinness Handicap Hurdle and the Kerry National amongst its’ highlights over the course of the next seven days.

Boasting both hurdles and flat racing throughout the week, there is sure to be several big names on show and leading trainers such as Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott, Joseph O’Brien and Henry de Bromhead are sure to be well-represented at the week-long festival.

2:00 – Kerry Group 3-Y-O Hurdle (3yo) 2m
2:30 – Kerrymaid Hurdle (4yo+) 2m4f
3:05 – Low Low Irish EBF Mares Handicap Hurdle (4yo+ 80-109) 2m4f
3:35 – Charleville Cheese Maiden Hurdle (5yo+) 3m
4:10 – Cheestrings Novice Chase (4yo+) 2m1f
4:40 – Kerry Group Handicap Chase (4yo+) 2m4f
5:10 – Kerry Group INH Flat Race (5-7yo) 2m

Seven races go to post on the opening day, which is an all-jumps card, and Brian Healy gives his race-by-race selections for the first day of racing at the County Kerry track.

2:00 – Kerry Group 3-Y-O Hurdle (3yo) 2m

HEREIA (4/1, Bet365) showed some fair form on the level, but Andrew Slattery’s charge found improvement switched to hurdles and the Olympic Glory could be worth chancing to follow up his hurdles debut win at Roscommon last month.

He ran out a ready winner despite some late mistakes to score by just over one length, keeping on well, and the runner-up and third horses home have both run well again since although the form perhaps is only ordinary.

This doesn’t look a particularly strong contest and there could be some significant improvement to come from him on the back of that first success so every chance he can double up on his win tally here.

2:30 – Kerrymaid Hurdle (4yo+) 2m4f

STRATUM (1/2, Ladbrokes) has already shown some very useful form over hurdles, and Willie Mullins’ charge can get back on the scoresheet returned to this sphere having struck on the flat last month at Killarney.

A Galway winner over hurdles back in September 2017, the Dansili colt won the JLT Cup on the flat at Newbury last June, after which he contested the likes of the Ebor Handicap at York and the Cesarewitch at Newmarket.

Having shaped encouragingly on his return over hurdles at Punchestown in May, he struck at Ballirobe with a defeat of Soldier Of War prior to making another sojourn onto the flat and the Northumberland Plate where he finished tenth.

Not Disgraced in the Galway Hurdle next time, his recent run at Killarney will have bolstered his confidence and this is a much easier assignment back over hurdles than he has been taking in in recent starts. Assuming he can run up to his best form over timber then he ought to prove a tough nut to crack at this level, and every chance he can get back to winning ways.

Paul Townend

Paul Townend can ride a winner on day one of Listowel

3:05 – Low Low Irish EBF Mares Handicap Hurdle (4yo+ 80-109) 2m4f

DEMI PLIE (7/2, William Hill) won twice over hurdles last term, scoring at Bellewstown and Fairyhouse, and the Mastercraftsman mare could have more to offer back in this discipline on the back of some very creditable efforts iver fences in recent times.

Padraig Roche’s charge was in the process of running well on her chase debut at Tramore when falling; but she showed no ill effects when going in next time at Downpatrick; and she lost no caste in defeat back at Tramore latest where she found only one too good in Megalomaniac when going down by two lengths.

She returns to hurdles here from a mark 1lb lower than when posting that runner-up effort, and a good 5lbs claimer in the plate helps to ease her weight burden so every chance she could go well here reverted to timber.

3:35 – Charleville Cheese Maiden Hurdle (5yo+) 3m

ZOLA (1/2, Ladbrokes) progressed with every start in bumpers, getting off the mark at the third attempt at Sligo in August, and Willie Mullins’ charge could be hard to beat making her hurdles debut here.

The Court Cave mare ran out an eight lengths’ victor over Conquering Tara, making most and finding plenty late on to eventually run out a cosy winner. Now switching to hurdles, she could find another jolt of improvement to follow up that success here.

The County Carlow handler will surely have her well-schooled ahead of this hurdles debut, while the step up to three miles promises to suit so with the potential to find significant progress now tacking obstacles she could prove hard to beat with a clear round.

4:10 – Cheestrings Novice Chase (4yo+) 2m1f

The evergreen WICKLOW BRAVE (1/2, Paddy Power) is 2-2 over fences thus far having come late to the chasing scene, and Willie Mullins’ charge can uphold his perfect record over the larger obstacles.

A top-class hurdler in his prime, he still showed he was capable of classy form despite advancing years when denied only by a short-head in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, and he finished third behind Buveur D’air at Punchestown on his return to Grade One company in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle.

A Ballinrobe winner on his first start over fences, he stepped up on that peformance to post a ready success over Jan Maat at Galway latest, and he can continue his winning spree to extend his record to three from three where despite having to give 5lbs now to the reopposing Jan Maat he can confirm that form with Henry de Bromhead’s rival.

Wicklow Brave

Wicklow Brave can make it three wins from three chase starts at Listowel

4:40 – Kerry Group Handicap Chase (4yo+) 2m4f

THE BIG LENSE (5/1, Bet365) scored his only career win under Rules to date when successful at Bellewstown last August, but the former point-to-point winner has got off to a decent start over fences and could get back to winning ways here.

Runner-up on his chase debut at Punchestown back in June, he has finished fourth on both subsequent outings at Wexford and Tipperary and remains capable of better. He was let down somewhat by his jumping latest when beaten around 16 lengths, but a clear round of jumping ought to put him firmly in the mix.

He makes his handicap debut here from a very workable opening mark, and with cheekpieces reapplied to the mix he can go close with the potential to find further improvement in this discipline.

5:10 – Kerry Group INH Flat Race (5-7yo) 2m

MOUNTAINMORE (13/8, William Hill) can cap a good first day at the Listowel Harvest Festival by getting off the mark at the second attempt, and the Mountain High mare should know more about what is required following her debut seventh at Kilbeggan last month.

Beaten around eight lengths on that occasion behind Don’t Bet On It, the Mullins runner looked to need that first run, and this better ground could well suit more than the soft ground the last day.

Given she was sent off at odds-on for that debut, better was clearly expected and while the run was a shade disappointing she could be worth chancing to do better here with that experience under her belt.

2019 LISTOWEL HARVEST FESTIVAL TIPS – DAY ONE SELECTIONS

2:00 – HEREIA (4/1, Bet365)
2:30 – STRATUM (1/2, Ladbrokes)
3:05 – DEMI PLIE (7/2, William Hill)
3:35 – ZOLA (1/2, Ladbrokes)
4:10 – WICKLOW BRAVE (1/2, Paddy Power)
4:40 – THE BIG LENSE (5/1, Bet365)
5:10 – MOUNTAINMORE (13/8, William Hill)