• Down Royal - Friday

    Ejayteekay to follow up at Down Royal

    Gavin Cromwell has bright prospects of being among the winners at Leopardstown this evening and the Navan trainer will surely be fancying his chances of success at Down Royal too. 

    The form of the race won by Ejayteekay over this course and distance earlier this month has certainly worked out well with runner-up I’ve Got Rhythm scoring at Wexford on Wednesday and the fourth and fifth placed horses finishing placed on subsequent runs. She can beat the Fairyhouse winner Misty Millie to win the Eventsec Handicap Hurdle. 

    Grey Mountain Mist was a winner over hurdles this time last year and lines out for the North Down Marquees Handicap Hurdle having won in convincing fashion over fences at Limerick last Sunday. His chase rating is now 100 but he makes plenty of appeal in this off a mark of just 85. Another 11-year-old is Lasoscar which was an early faller over fences at the Punchestown festival but ran a big race over the smaller obstacles when fourth to the well-handicapped Benkei at Killarney next time out. He could now put it up to his younger rivals in the Mount Charles Handicap Hurdle over an extended three miles. 

    Over fences, the Joseph O'Brien-trained Oathkeeper will certainly have his ground as he faces five rivals in the French Village Catering Rated Novice Chase while Noel Meade has a strong hand in the Kaizen Brand Evolution Handicap Chase with two runners and could well score with Jack Slade which is another at this best on quick ground. 

    Selections: 5.30 State Of Nirvana; 6.05 Ejayteekay; 6.35 Grey Mountain Mist; 7.05 Lasoscar; 7.35 Oathkeeper; 8.05 Jack Slade; 8.35 The Abbey. 

    Leopardstown - Friday

    Further Leopardstown success ahead of Order Of St George

    Order Of St George is the class act at Leopardstown and it is long odds-on that he records a third straight win in the Listed Saval Beg Levmoss Stakes for Aidan O'Brien this evening. 

    The Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, a race he won two years ago, beckons for the six-year-old which looks a class apart and arrives here with a smooth success at Navan last month behind him. Twilight Payment is absent since finishing well behind Order Of St George in the Irish St Leger in September but looks a clear second best in the race of the meeting. 

    The preceding Microsoft Ireland Handicap is a far more open affair and perhaps Waterboy can build on a promising effort over a longer trip at Dundalk at the beginning of the month to win for Curragh trainer Dick Brabazon and Seamie Heffernan. The Breast Cancer Ireland Apprentice Handicap is equally as tricky but here Archer’s Up, a winner for Brabazon at Dundalk in the middle of last month on his first outing since July, can make a winning start for Gavin Cromwell. Prince Garyantle is a four-time winner over hurdles since he last ran on the Flat and will be expected to go well on his handicap debut. 

    Dream Point hasn’t done too badly on four starts on the all-weather and she might just come out on top in the Paddy’s Rewards Club Handicap. She didn’t run in the race won by Flindt at Sligo on Tuesday night due to the change of ground and her connections patience might just be rewarded now. Racing concludes with the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Handicap and here Jim Bolger ‘s Ringside Humour might benefit most from a drop back in trip after taking third place over three furlongs further at Navan last Saturday. She has a little to find with top-weight Bianca Minola but can turn the form around if getting a chance to dictate from the front once again. 

    Selections: 5.20 California Daddy; 5.55 Prosecution; 6.25 Havana Go; 6.55 Waterboy; 7.25 Order Of St George; 7.55 Archer’s Up; 8.25 Dream Point (NAP); 8.55 Ringside Humour. 

    Curragh - Saturday

    Cross-channel raiders set for Curragh reward

    Aidan O'Brien saddles four of the 11 runners in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh on Saturday as he bids to win the race for the 12th time but his quartet might only be playing for places behind cross channel raider Elarqam.

    Trained by Mark Johnston, this son of Frankel was unbeaten in two starts last season and made a hugely promising return when a shade over two lengths fourth to Saxon Warrior in the English 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket last month. He has been a leading fancy for this race ever since and looks to hold the Ballydoyle’s Gustav Klimt, now the mount of Donnacha O’Brien, which was two lengths further back in sixth place at Newmarket.

    Ryan Moore took a few by surprise by opting for U S Navy Flag, which was well behind Gustav Klimt on very different ground at Leopardstown last month but was far better when fifth in the French equivalent at Longchamp two weeks ago. He had a busy time of it last season and is overlooked and a bigger might just come from the unbeaten Zihba for Fozzy Stack and Chris Hayes.

    The visitors might also have the best of it in the Group 2 Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes where Kevin Ryan’s Brando and the William Haggas-trained Tasleet should put it up to the home brigade which is headed by Aidan O'Brien’s Australian import Merchant Navy. The latter was a winner at the highest level at Flemington in November of last year and certainly won’t be inconvenienced by quick ground. However, the selection held his form well against the best of opposition last season and just lost out in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

    Like Merchant Navy, Hydrangea has a Group 1 penalty to contend with in the Group 2 Lanwades Stud Stakes, but her opposition is not nearly as talented, and she is rated 13lbs higher than her closest rival. There is no doubt that she is at her most vulnerable on her seasonal reappearance, but it will come as a huge surprise if she doesn’t come out well on top.

    The Listed Cold Move Irish EBF Marble Hill Stakes looks far more competitive and is further complicated as Aidan O'Brien runs three previous winners. Ryan Moore has won on both Fairyland and Van Beethoven and it is hardly a surprise that he sticks with the colt which was hugely impressive from the front when successful at Naas on his second start.

    Michael Halford needs just one more winner to reach the 1,000-winner mark in Ireland and he has three chances on Saturday. His Blackgold Fairy is joint-top-weight in the Curragh Spring Fillies Handicap and might be the Doneaney trainer’s best chance of a winner after fine effort when third to Mendelssohn at Dundalk in early March.

    Selections: 1.50 Sparkle’n’joy; 2.25 Mokhalad; 3.00 Van Beethoven; 3.35 Tasleet; 4.10 Elarqam; 4.45 Hydrangea; 5.20 Blackgold Fairy; 5.55 Dream Of Words. 

    Curragh - Sunday

    Chiara Luna could surprise at the Curragh on Sunday

    A fantastic eight-race card at the Curragh on Sunday is highlighted by the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas which has attracted a field of 13. After a fine run when third in the English equivalent three weeks ago Aidan O’Brien has high hopes of an eighth win in the race with the likely favourite Happily.

    The mount of Ryan Moore, she is sure to improve on what was her first outing of the year at Newmarket and can confirm form with the sole English raider, Soliloquy, which finished a close-up sixth but at relatively short odds, better value may be had elsewhere. The Ger Lyons-trained Who’s Steph has improved markedly this year and was winning for the second time when scoring in the 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown two weeks ago. She must have solid each-way claims once again but perhaps Chiara Luna, a fast finishing fourth in that same Leopardstown race, could be the one to follow. Her trainer Dermot Weld has won the Irish 1,000 Guineas on four previous occasions and she makes plenty of each-way appeal at her likely odds.

    In other races, the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup has attracted a field of five runners and despite fears that the likely quick ground on Sunday may not totally be in his favour, Roger Varian’s much improvedDefoe could prove too strong for the Aidan O’Brien pair of Cliffs Of Moher and Lancaster Bomber while the other Group event on the card is the Group 3 Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes and here Platinum Warrior might be the right solution for trainer Michael Halford after a decent effort when fourth in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown earlier this month.

    There are some very competitive and open handicaps on the card which features a huge Pick Six rollover of €78,930 and Spruce Meadows could be a lively one in the K Club Handicap over 10 furlongs after a decent effort when third in a similar type race on unsuitably testing ground here recently while Neverushacon could be the solution to the two-mile Curragh Where Champions Are Made Handicap after winning well over hurdles at Killarney two weeks ago. The concluding 10-furlong maiden could go the way of recent Navan runner up, Lucius Tiberius, with Cardini in the opening two-year-old maiden and Katiymann in the one mile ‘Habitat’ Handicap two others with good chances in their respective races on an excellent card.

    Selections: 1.50 Cardini; 2.25 Defoe; 3.00 Platinum Warrior, 3.35 Spruce Meadows; 4.10 Chiara Luna (NAP); 4.45 Katiymann; 5.20 Neverushacon; 5.55 Lucius Tiberius. 

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