Category Archives: Ireland

Irish Champion Stakes (G1)

 

Zhukova on her way out to win the Enterprise Stakes last year.

” I’ve been waiting such a long time, looking out for you but your not here.”

It’s Minding we’ll miss, if injury hadn’t curtailed her career she could have blown the season apart and expectation would have been she would have been crowned Queen of Ireland in the Champion Stakes here.

The show goes on and Churchill fills the role as the Ballydoyle number one. The dual Guineas winner has been beaten twice since. The poor run at Royal Ascot is still a mystery but it’s forgotten now after a good return to form in the International at York. He and Barney Roy cut their own throats by having a private battle setting it up for Ulysses  He mightn’t have won but he put in a very solid performance proving he could see out the step up in trip to 10f.

Alas, the race doesn’t have the depth in quality it had last year, a truly exceptional year, it’s still intriguing none the less. That’s down to the presence of Eminent. He put in a cracking effort over this trip in Deauville last time out. He was ridden by Ryan Moore that day and given a soft lead the field couldn’t peg him back. That won’t happen here so will Frankie Dettori in the saddle for the first time take it on or will he sit and wait.

Most likely it’ll be Ken Condon’s Success Days who will set the pace. He a confirmed front-runner who last time out at York in the Sky Bet Stakes just saw it out to win by a nose. He’ll love every drop of rain that falls.

The 2014 winner The Grey Gatsby now trained by Dermot Weld is back. He’s a shadow of the horse who won when beating Australia and it’s more likely Zhukova would give Rosewell House the better opportunity to claim this prize.

Zhukova is a lightly raced five-year old who won the Enterprise Stakes here last year in impressive style. She’s since a G1 winner when she took the Man o’ War at Belmont in May this year. She ran a cracker in July in the Pretty Poly when only tiring in the last furlong and this shorter trip after a nice break will be right up her street.

Decorated Knight is back in Ireland the scene of his last G1 win where at the Curragh he took the Tattersalls Gold Cup also in May. Luck has deserted him since, second to Highland Reel at Royal Ascot was followed by what his trainer Roger Charlton described as a frustrating run in the Eclipse. In the International at York he pulled muscles and in the circumstances ran magnificently to still be involved with a furlong to run.

The Stoute team sends Poet’s Word over instead of Ulysses. He’s three wins from seven, the last being a G3, the Glorious Stakes at Goodwood. He’s on the up and will like Ulysses turn into a nice five-year old. A similar case could be made for Jim Bolger’s Moonlight Magic whose shown flashes of potential never more than last time out when beating Deauville a head here in the Meld Stakes in July.

That leaves Cliffs Of Moher and Taj Mahal, the Ballydoyle supporting actors. The former hasn’t lived up to expectations, sent off as favourite for the Derby where he ran second, he hasn’t yet cut the mustard since running fourth in both the Eclipse and The International.

Taj Mahal went to Chicago where he ran his best race when second to Oscar Performance in the Secretariat Stakes. The winner won last years Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf and is now a triple G1 winner. 66/1 ignores his talent.

Aidan O’Brien hasn’t won Ireland’s premier all age race since So You Think won in 2011. St Nicholas Abbey, Australia, Found (twice) and Minding have all been beaten in this race. Can Churchill end the drought?

Chances are he can but at 11/10 he’s a short price for one whose been beaten at this distance albeit on his only try when caught in a headlock by Barney Roy.

It presents a doubt, enough to take him on, a fit Decorated Knight is interesting on what looks like good to yielding ground however there’s one who’ll love the ground and the track and is trained by a master in Dermot Weld.

And Twelve points go to … … Zhukova

Douze points Zhulova

I can hear Aidan humming on the way home in the car. I’ve been waiting…….

A happy Chris Hayes coming in after winning the Desmond Stakes in July

In The Boomerang Stakes Alexios Konmenos should follow up his win in the Desmond Stakes over course and distance in July.

Recommendation:

Irish Champion Stakes:  Zhukova 12/1 ew 

                                            Zhukova and Decorated Knight (RFC)

Boomerang Stakes:        Alexios Konmenos 9/4 win

The Matron Stakes:       Enjoy Winter

 

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The Desmond Stakes (G3)

Custom Cut leaves the ring for last year’s Desmond Stakes

The evenings are drawing in and the last of the summer cider will be drunk tonight at Leopardstown.

The feature is an interesting renewal of the Desmond Stakes.

David O’Meara sends Custom Cut back for another crack at a track where he has been very successful. This will be his ninth visit to the course where he’s won three times, twice at G3 level including on his last visit when he took the Amesthyst Stakes over this distance here in May and once at G2 level when he won the Boomerang Stakes again over a mile in 2015.

He’s accompanied on the trip from England by Morando who’s looking for a fifth win from his seventh start. Roger Varian’s four old didn’t get a run as a juvenile but as a three-year old he managed three successive wins. He returned to the racecourse to win a listed race over a mile at Windsor on the 1st July.

True Valour at Naas earlier in the season

The home team is headed by three in the shape of True Valour, Sea Wolf and Alexios Komnenos who fought out the Celebration Stakes at the Curragh also on the 1st July. A 1/2 L and a neck separated them. Of the three the one with the most capacity to improve is the latter as Fossy Stacks runner was only having his third run of his life. Last year he won a maiden beating Inca Gold first time out and then only went down a battling neck to Churchill in the Tyros Stakes.

Diamond Fields at Naas in May

The other Stack runner Diamond Fields also processes some nice form having taken the scalp of Alice Springs in the Gladness Stakes at Naas at the start of the season. She then found the going too quick on her return to the same track over the May bank holiday weekend when running last to Rehana in the Athashi Stakes. We haven’t seen her since.

Flight Risk, Music Box and Intricately make up the field. The former is trained by Jim Bolger who after a cold spell had a double at Gowran Park yesterday. Flight Risk is hard to win with but like Custom Cut her last visit to the track was a winning one when she took the Ballycourus Stakes over 7 f here in June.

You might say Music Box is well exposed at this stage as this will be her 12th start of the current campaign however like many of Aidan’s she keeps improving from race to race. Her last three run’s are testament to her toughness. She found Drumfad Bay too good at Killarney and Only Mine too good at Naas but last time out she turned over the form with Drumfad Bay when taking a listed race at Galway.

Intricately won the Moyglare Stakes last year, the premier two-year old fillies race in Ireland. She hasn’t won since but she has been to all the best dances. She’s the only one in the field to have operated almost exclusively at G1 level. She might have been well beaten at the Breeders Cup last year at Santa Anita and again in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket but her run in the Leopardstown Guineas Trial at the start of the season was very good as was her run in the Irish 1000 Guineas where she was only 5 L off Winter. She’s since disputed the Pretty Polly and Irish Oaks where her stamina might have been stretched too far and the step back to a mile here will most likely suit.

This is an open and intriguing event.

There are proven older performers, the likes of Custom Cut, Sea Wolf and Flight Risk, the lightly raced four year old Morando. Then are are the three-year olds in receipt of a weight for age allowance with the fillies benefitting 3 lbs more than the males.

If the younger generation are to come out on top then you could argue both Music Box and Intricately have already had their opportunities. That leaves the three-year old males, True Valour and Alexios Komnenos. Of the two a chance is taken with the latter. He might be the least experienced but on the back of a 1/2 L defeat by Churchill and a very encouraging seasonal debut he offers the most potential.

Recommendation: Alexios Komnenos 13/2 win

 

 

 

 

 

The Irish Derby (Group 1)

Taj Mahal at Leopardstown last year

Sport can sometimes be cruel.

Last week Peter O’Mahony was the Lions captain. This week he watch’s the match from the sidelines. Padraig Beggy will also watch from the sidelines after winning the Epsom Derby on Wings Of Eagles. He is replaced by Ballydoyle’s number one pilot, Ryan Moore.

He was no fluke winner of the Epsom Derby.

Ae we noted in the Epsom Derby blog he showed a turn of foot in the Chester Vase when second to Venice Beech. That was repeated when he collared Cliffs Of Moher and Crackman at Epsom. Cliffs Of Moher waits for next week’s Eclipse but Cracksman comes back for another crack at Wings Of Eagles. The noises from the Gosden camp are positive and they are looking forward to the rematch. Their thinking being their colt having only had his third run of his life will improve. Wings Of Eagles will be having his seventh run. Is he still improving?

The Derby form got a great boost at Royal Ascot with both Benbatl (5th at Epsom) winning the Hampton Court Stakes where he beat Orderofthegarter a 1/2 L and Periman (10th at Epsom) winning the King Edward V11 Stakes where he beat Khalidi (14th at Epsom).

Capri, Douglas Macarthur and The Anvil also represented Ballydoyle at Epsom. Capri was disappointing running sixth running on at same pace with Douglas Macarthur 1 L behind in seventh. Seamie Heffernan retains the ride on Capri, a horse he’s been sweet on since his first run. The suspicion now is he shows more at home than he does on the track.

Douglas Macarthur who probably does show us as much on the track as he does at home will be ridden by Donnacha O’Brien as Colm O’Donoghue is claimed for Grandee as retained rider to the Jessica Harrington stable. He will have to improve a ton to win this on the back of a listed win at Leopardstown, the good news was that that was over 1M4F so he’ll stay.

Dubai Sand also has a mountain to climb on ratings if he is to win having been beaten 9 L by Douglas Macarthur in the Derrinstown Derby Trial in May. He’ll be the freshest horse here.

Ana O’Brien will again get a spin on The Anvil. At Epsom Douglas Macarthur broke well and took it up joined by Ana on The Anvil. The pace they set was searing and soon they were well clear of the field. Rounding Tattenham corner Wings Of Eagles was a long way back running third last. Douglas Macarthur up front was piling on the pressure. He soon burnt off The Anvil and when Cracksman came to his hindquarters 2 F out he began to fold. Outside of Cracksman Cliffs Of Moher was attacking under Ryan Moore. It looked between the two of them. All the while in behind Padraig Beggy was getting a tune out of Wings Of Eagles. He easily picked up a tiring field and as the line loomed he swooped late to overhaul his stable companion and Cracksman. Turn of foot, job done.

Andre Farbe, who won this in 2005 with Hurricane Run, has elected to send Waidgest here on the back of his excellent second in the French Derby where Brametot beat him a short head. Taj Mahal ran a cracker staying on to be fourth 1 1/2 L behind the winner with Orderogthegarter back in sixth. This was reversed in the Hampton Court when Orderogthegarter ran second to Benbatl with Taj Mahal again filling fourth.

The form link suggests Epsom was the better race than Chantilly.

There’s every reason to think Waidgeist will benefit from the step up in trip from the 1M2F Prix Du Jockey Club to the 1M4F here. Cracksman you would expect will improve from his Epsom run also. So too will Wings Of Eagles. This time Ryan Moore will call the tune. It’s the turn of foot that will deliver.

Recommendation: Wing Of Eagles 9/4 win

                                      Wing Of Eagles, Cracksman, Waidgeist Combined Trifecta 

 

The Irish 1000 Guineas (Group 1)

Rehana on her way out to win the Athasi Stakes at Naas

Winter may have won at Newmarket a couple of weeks ago but can she double up at the Curragh on today?

Aidan O’Brien has decided against running Rhododendron instead keeping her for the Oaks but he is still mob handed with half the field declared from Ballydoyle. Supporting Winter are Hydrangea, Roly Poly and Asking.

It’s the ground that thrown everything. The heavy rain yesterday at the Curragh has turned the ground to yielding, a bit worse than it was for that Guineas Trial at Leopardstown. It now looks a hot trial now, won by Hydrangea with Winter second and Rehana third. All take each other on again here.

Four fillies oppose the Ballydoyle juggernaut.

Aneen from the Kevin Prendergast yard had two runs as a juvenile. She made a pleasing debut at Leopardstown running on strongly into fourth before winning a maiden here at the Curragh on good to yielding ground where she was an easy winner albeit possibly an uncooperative one when flashing her tail when put under the whip.

Bean Feasa (Irish for a woman of knowledge) represents Jim Bolger. She ran very well first time out when going down a half a length to Psychedelic Funk at Naas last year but in two subsequent runs as a juvenile she wasn’t able to build on that. Her reappearance came in what the Leopardstown 1000 Guineas Trial where she ran fifth. A second in a maiden behind Naughty But Nice was then followed up with a win over Asking in the Derrinstown 1000 Guineas Trail at Leopardstown.

Joseph O’Brien’s Intricately was a surprising winner of the Moyglare Stakes (G1) last year but she hasn’t gone on from there. At Newmarket she was competitive before running out of steam two furlongs out and maybe it was the dip that caught her out. She’ll welcome a return to this flatter track and she’ll also like the ground given her win the Moyglare was on a yielding surface.

Rehana from the Mick Halford stable had four runs last year including a win over Rhododendron when she took her maiden. Thereafter she went down in the Debutante Stakes (G2) and in the Moyglare Stakes (G1) fourth both times. Her third in the Leopardstown Trial was followed up with a very impressive performance at Naas three weeks ago when she took on and beat older fillies in the Athasi Stakes (G3).

It worth noting that Roly Poly whose overall two year old form was good also has form on the track and on the surface having won the Grangecon Stud Stakes (G3) here last June.

It’s a tight one Winter is well capable of doing the double but she’s a skinny price and she’s worth taking on. Rehana’s performance at Naas was very likeable and she seems to have come on well from the Leopoardstown Trial. Her test today is the surface, if she handles it she could win today.

Recommendation: Rehana 13/2 ew 

                                        Rehana, Roly Poly (Reverse forecast)