Kerry National preview: Owega Star to take centre stage
The big race of the day at Listowel is the Kerry National (16.20), and Owega Star looks to have plenty going for him in a typically fierce and wide-open renewal of the 3m contest.
Owega Star is a dual winner at the venue and had some strong form to his name last year in competitive contests.
The Peter Fahey trained gelding finished an excellent 1 3/4 length second of 25 to Ballybrigan in the Troyton Chase at Navan on soft ground off a mark of 138, and also ran very well to finish fifth of 26 to Living Next Door in a valuable contest at Punchestown’s Christmas meeting off 138.
Owega Star is now able to race off 134, the same as when in the Troytown, and that gives him ever chance from a handicapping perspective.
The eight-year-old will also have no problem whatsover with the very testing underfoot conditions, and comes into the contest on the back of two prep runs – one over hurdles and one the level.
Those runs, which came after a 112 day break, should have put Owega Star spot on for this and he has clearly been targeted at the race.
Owega Star also has the services of the highly talented Johnny Burke in the saddle, and everything points to a big run.
Willie Mullins saddles five runners in the race, and The Paparazzi Kid looks the pick of the quintet.
The eight-year-old has won two of his three starts over fences and posted a career-best effort over the larger obstacles when a 5 1/2 length second of 22 to Shanahan’s Turn in the Galway Plate when last seen in action.
Although The Paparazzi Kid had the run of the race, it was a cracking effort for one so inexperienced and a 5lb rise in the weights looks fair.
The son of Milan also has plenty of winning form on soft ground, and with Ruby Walsh in the saddle The Paparazzi Kid looks a major player and the main danger to Owega Star.
Coral’s top tip: The mud-loving Owega Star has plenty going for him and looks decent value to secure Kerry National glory