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Spring is in the air. The US Masters is back in its traditional slot. We also get Guineas and Derby trials in Leopardstown on Sunday. If this isn’t the week that announces spring, then I’m a Dutchman. Winter is slow to release its grip on the south Dublin venue mind you. Snow is forecast.
There’s also the odd shower about but not enough to change the current going description of good. We get some highly competitive racing, and there could well be a future star or two on show.
The 2000 Guineas trial looks a right good renewal. Aidan O’Brien has started the season in rampant fashion, and his trio bring plenty of potential to the table. Monaasib just about sets the standard. He was tough and progressive last term. He’s not readily opposed but I think it’s possible that he may be bettered by A Case Of You.
This horse bolted up in a group race at the Curragh last October. That wasn’t the strongest race but the second did advertise the form subsequently. A Case of You joined the Ado McGuinness team in the off season. He returned with another mightily impressive performance in Dundalk last month.
My hunch is that this horse will be seen to best effect over six furlongs. This trip is clearly no problem though. His speed, and tactical versatility, could also prove advantageous if we get a muddling pace. He may also hold a fitness edge over some of these.
The 1000 Guineas trial comes up straight afterwards Shale has a penalty but sets the clear form standard. She’s a small filly and may not have the scope of some of these but will be very hard to beat. I’m going to take a chance on More Beautiful. She’s likely to be a big price. That’s understandable.
She has failed to fulfil the promise of her massively impressive debut last season. On the back of that she was sent off a short priced favourite in Royal Ascot. She blew out there, and was a beaten favourite on her two subsequent starts. She now rocks up here as the Ballydoyle third string.
The likelihood is that she’s a busted flush. It’s just hard to shake the impression of that Naas win. There was substance to that form too. There’s also a theory that the progeny of War Front are best fresh. I’m not convinced about that but there may be something in it. We’re going to be getting a price that lends itself to forgiveness. Given her profile, my bet will be win only.
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Bolshoi Ballet looks to be the Ballydoyle first string in the Ballysax Stakes. I will take him on with stablemate Lough Derg. This horse overcame significant greenness to make a winning debut in Dundalk last November. The second that day is a talented sort.
He had finished second to some smart horses before that race, and won a maiden last week in Cork. Lough Derg did really well to get up that day having lost his position in the middle of the race. The extra two furlongs on Sunday look sure to suit
As mentioned before, Aidan O’Brien looks to have his horses well forward this season. It’s possible that inexperience will get the better of him here. It’s also quite possible that this is a really strong race. Nonetheless, he looks worthy of a wager.
The card closes with a tricky, low grade handicap. Ballycaines might be put in too big a price if the layers overreact to his last run. That came on heavy ground in the Curragh. His best form has come on either an artificial surface or decent ground on the turf.
He ran up a consistent sequence of placed efforts on the all weather early this year. He was then a close third over hurdles. The winner of that race has since gone on to run a couple of good races. Ballycaines has gone up 6lbs on the Flat without winning.
That’s not ideal but based on his second to Drakensburg, I’d be confident he’s on a competitive mark. The horse doesn’t seem to lack speed so the drop in trip isn’t a huge worry. He can also make the running if the jockey isn’t happy with the early pace.
Brendan Duke’s best bets at Leopardstown:
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