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Dundalk stage an eight-race card on Friday with the Charles O’Brien-trained BIG GOSSEY my first selection in the opening 5-furlong handicap. I’ve been following this horse for some time and I reckon he has an excellent chance for the Dublin-based Allegro Syndicate. He broke his maiden over course and distance in December 2019, before following up after a break to land a Curragh handicap off a rating of 82 last summer.
The son of Gutaifan was fifth to Urban Beat in the Mercury Stakes in October and contested the Listed Belgrave Stakes in November. The key to this horse in handicap company is the 5 furlongs trip, because he races forward and could be very hard to catch if Gearoid Brouder sets the perfect fractions. The young rider once again takes off a valuable 7lbs, and – with a fantastic draw in stall 2 – a big run looks on the cards.
BLACKSTONE CLIFF returned from a break to finish a good second over course and distance last month and can land this handicap under Emmett McNamara. The son of Canford Cliffs has been progressing nicely for John McConnell since winning nicely here in November off a rating of 49. He’ll be played late and waited out the back under the Epsom Derby winning jockey, and should strike late off a strong pace.
Gormanston was only beaten just under 3 lengths by Blackstone Cliff last month and is the obvious main danger for Nigel Slevin. The five-year-old is once again running off a rating of 53, which is only 3lbs higher than his winning mark of 50 back here before Christmas. Elsewhere, Loughanlea Lass might improve for the extra trip here, with Odd Venture another contender now dropping down in distance with Adam Farragher taking off 7lbs to help.
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SIENNA LADY has had plenty of chances, but should go close to breaking her maiden against her own sex for Michael Halford and Ronan Whelan. She travelled well behind the pacesetters here three weeks ago before getting tired in the closing stages when sixth to Mosala. The drop back to 1m should prove beneficial with her latest run enhanced earlier this week with the second Tooreen Angel finally winning for Fozzy Stack.
Lilandra will be popular and has an excellent chance for Dylan Browne McMonagle and trainer Ross O’Sullivan. The daughter of Equiano is having her third start for O’Sullivan and should appreciate the extra furlong following her third-place finish behind Turbo Command last week. Elsewhere, the return to 1m should be a positive for Dream Round with Sam Ewing taking off 7lbs and a tongue-tie used for the first time.
It’s hard to look beyond DEVIL’S OUTLAW after Joseph O’Brien’s runner was only beaten a nose behind stable-mate Visualisation here two weeks ago. The son of War Front made late ground to challenge and went down fighting with Declan McDonagh remaining in the saddle. The extra furlong looks a positive, and he should uphold the form with Star Harbour, who disappointed when finishing fourth.
Virtual Hug has plenty of experience for Conor O’Dwyer and was third behind the Joseph O’Brien-trained Irwin last month. Rocky Sky has a wide draw having finished a surprised third on debut in early December, while Chazzesmee, Davitt and Faraway Dreams are notable newcomers for Fozzy Stack, Charles O’Brien and Michael Halford.
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