Black­more has grade one win in sights

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - RACING NEWS, PROGRAMMES AND RESULTS - BRIAN O’CON­NOR

Hav­ing en­gi­neered the down­fall of Sam­cro the day be­fore at Down Royal, on Satur­day Rachael Black­more has a first ever Grade One suc­cess in her sights on board Balko De Flos.

The 29-year-old is cur­rently fight­ing it out with Paul Tow­nend at the top of the jockeys’ ta­ble and Be­drock’s shock de­feat of the 4-9 favourite Sam­cro took her to 50 win­ners for the sea­son.

It was a first Grade Two vic­tory for Black­more and a land­mark Grade One in the first top-flight prize of the sea­son could quickly fol­low.

It cer­tainly adds an in­trigu­ing el­e­ment to a JNwine Cham­pion Chase that oth­er­wise looks over­whelm­ingly dom­i­nated by Michael O’Leary.

The Ryanair boss’s Gigginstown team is seek­ing a sixth win in a row in the ¤140,000 fea­ture and have five of the seven run­ners, in­clud­ing Black­more’s mount, Balko Des Flos.

Gigginstown v Har­ring­ton

It’s a race that can be por­trayed as Gigginstown v Jessica Har­ring­ton, al­though the lat­ter’s two run­ners, Wood­land Opera and Sandy­mount Duke, are of­fi­cially rated lower than all of O’Leary’s quin­tet.

Balko Des Flos is top-rated but has yet to win over three miles. Like last year’s run­ner up, Road To Re­spect, he is mak­ing his first start of the sea­son.

The value of race-fit­ness was il­lus­trated by Be­drock’s vic­tory and that could prove cru­cial to Out­lander’s chances of win­ning the race back to back. Fore­cast overnight rain could also help last year’s win­ner.

Out­lander won in 2017 off a much less sat­is­fac­tory sea­sonal reap­pear­ance than he put in at Punchestown be­hind an­other of his ri­vals, Sub Lieu­tenant, last month. He might be able to give Jack Kennedy a pick-up after Sam­cro’s eclipse.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: KELVIN BOYES/PRESSEYE/INPHO

Rachael Black­more on board Be­drock jumps the last to beat Jack Kennedy on Sam­cro to win the WKD Hur­dles at Down Royal yes­ter­day.

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