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Eoghan O'Grady eyes fast start

By Richard Forristal

Eoghan O'Grady always does well with the few that he runs on the track and the shrewd Co Cork-based handler is tipped to get 2014 off to a flying start by claiming the €15,000 handicap chase at Fairyhouse with Unoccupied.

O'Grady trains less than five miles from Mallow racecourse, where the waterlogged track is due to be inspected at 9.00am tomorrow morning ahead of a Saturday card that looks in serious doubt.

The situation at the Ratoath venue in Co Meath ahead of this afternoon's fixture doesn't appear to be nearly so desperate, though there are heavy showers already forecast to fall on ground that is already described as heavy in places.

For Unoccupied, the deeper it gets, the better. A soft ground point-to-point winner in 2011, his three track successes have come on nothing less than heavy, including a beginners' chase triumph at Tramore.

Following that, he reverted to hurdles to win twice in the spring, before making an eye-catching reappearance on switching back to fences when third behind Count Salazar and Goonyella at Galway in October.

Unoccupied was duly sent off a heavily-backed favourite for the Cork Grand National and lost very little in defeat when keeping on gamely for second behind the victor Sword Fish, who rana way from the field.

That is form that has held up brilliantly since, with Friday's Paddy Power Chase hero Rockyaboya a couple of lengths behind in fourth.

Oscars Business, which was bang there until hitting the third-last fence hard, came out and won well at Navan next time, beating last Sunday's Limerick winner Jupitor into second over two and a half miles.

Oscars Business steps back up to three miles and a furlong for Robert Tyner here off an 8lb higher mark for top-weight. Unoccupied, on the other hand, is 6lb better off with him, despite beating him by a wide margin at Cork, so he is fancied to score under leading amateur jockey Derek O'Connor.

Love Rory, an early casualty when well-backed at Leopardstown on Sunday, is another to consider in what is a competitive affair.

Philip Enright gets the nod to take the two-mile handicap hurdle aboard Michael Butler's bottom-weight Kick Start, which was just touched off here during similar conditions on its penultimate start.

Belfast Telegraph


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