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A 5 furlong handicap here in mid-December looks the key piece of form to determine who might win this opening handicap over the minimum trip at Dundalk on Friday. The Michael Halford-trained HODD’S GIRL claimed victory on that occasion, with Woodraw second and Pillar back in sixth place for Adrian McGuinness.
The daughter of Zebedee looked to have more to offer when winning last month, and can defy a poor draw as well as a rise in the ratings with jockey Adam Farragher taking off 7lbs today. Woodrow returns quickly for Cormac Farrell after winning easily when breaking his maiden here on Monday, with Sam Ewing also taking off 7lbs to help. Pillar can’t be discounted with the Ado McGuinness yard in good form, while Ahyoka – with Colin Keane booked – returns after a course and distance success in September.
ZEN SILENCE makes her handicap debut off an opening mark of 69 today and drops back to 5 furlongs for trainer Kieran Cotter. The daughter of Dragon Pulse has shown enough in her four career starts to suggest she’s more than capable of securing victory here, with Sam Ewing once again in the saddle.
She travelled extremely well into the straight before fading into fourth place over 7 furlongs here in mid-December, before finishing second to the 79 rated Ferrybank over 6 furlongs last week. The drop to 5 furlongs will be ideal for her on Friday, and she’ll have enough ability to see off previous course winner and main danger Stop On Red.
The Joseph O’Brien team are in excellent form this week and can record another winner with DANCES WITH STARS in this 1m 4f rated race. An opening rating of 75 looks reasonable after been placed on all three starts to date – including a course and distance second back here in mid-December.
The son of Sea The Stars has a lovely pedigree from Charles Fipke’s breeding family, with his dam Dance Secretary a half-sister to Grade 1 US winner Perfect Soul. Elsewhere, Battle Of Benburb with Colin Keane booked, Magi Gal, Glorious Zoff and the Michael Halford pair of Spelga and Tirmizi look the obvious dangers.
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The exposed S’all Good Man could be worth an each-way punt if Dances With Stars wins our previous race, after Bill Farrell’s runner contested the same maiden as Joseph O’Brien’s horse in mid-December.
However, MOSALA has produced more than enough already to finally break his maiden for Henry de Bromhead with Colin Keane now booked. His standout piece of form comes behind St Leger winner Galileo Chrome when fourth to Joseph O’Brien’s classic winner in a conditions race at Leopardstown last summer.
He was previously fifth to Delphi in a Curragh maiden, with Aidan O’Brien’s runner going on to win three successive races afterwards – including the Listed Nijinsky Stakes and Group 3 Irish Leger Trial. The form clearly stands out and with his previous two second place finishes here at Dundalk in November and December, the son of Kodiac looks the best bet on the card this Friday.
IRWIN made a very promising debut when finishing third here for Joseph O’Brien last month and looks more than capable on winning this 1m maiden on his second start. That performance was eye-catching considering he missed the break and was only beaten three-quarters of a length behind winner Catena Zapata.
The son of Australia can progress further and claim his maiden under Shane Crosse before hopefully developing into a nice middle-distance type later this year on turf. Elsewhere, Razdan with a rating of 76 looks the main danger with Michael Halford using a hood following his disappointing run here in late October.
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