Racing: CLASSY ACCORDION IS MUSIC TO MY EARS
Byline: Peter O'HEHIR
ACCORDION ETOILE is undoubtedly the equine star of the domestic scene this weekend and should not be opposed when he bids for back-to-back wins in the betdaq.com Hurdle at Tipperary tomorrow.
Conqueror of Grimes in this race last year, Accordion Etoile mixed with the best hurdlers in Britain and Ireland last season and ran the race of his life when finishing a close fourth behind compatriots Hardy Eustace, Harchibald and Brave Inca in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
In his only subsequent start, and his most recent outing, Paul Nolan's charge filled sixth spot, after apparently failing to stay, behind another compatriot Al Eile in the Grade 1 Scottish and Newcastle Aintree Hurdle.
Nolan has rested Accordion Etoile since early April and has opted to campaign on fast, summer ground, a surface on which he considers the six-year-old son of Accordion to be far more effective than in wintry conditions.
With an official rating of 161, Accordion Etoile has plenty in hand on his eight rivals in tomorrow's race.
And this classy gelding, the mount of John Cullen, should have little difficulty in completing his Tipperary double prior to carrying top-weight in the Guinness Galway Hurdle in less than two weeks.
Akram's performance when runner-up to Portsmouth in a recent Curragh maiden landed Fran Berry in hot water with the stewards as the season's leading rider picked up a nine-day careless riding ban.
Although the form of that Curragh race has taken a couple of knocks. AKRAM is a confident choice to make it third-time-lucky in the nine-furlong, in which he'll be ridden by 13-time champion Michael Kinane.
Michael Halford's VIOLANI, a creditable third to Thursday's Newmarket Group 3 winner Horatio Nelson at the Curragh recently, sets a fair standard in the two-year-old maiden but may have to settle for second spot behind Ballydoyle debutant FOLK TUNE. …