Brendan Duke: We’ll be on song if it all works out at the Curragh

Brendan's banging the drum for Ballyoisin at Killarney (19.25) and Kastasa at the Curragh (19.40) on Friday night.


The summer has made a comeback. With temperatures in the 20’s, a relatively high-profile band in The Riptide Movement, and a fascinating card on offer, it’s to be hoped that the Curragh will draw a decent crowd on Friday night.

If not the Friday evening experiment may be over. The widening of the M7 motorway still lurks in a subconscious dark place for many people. It’s finished now, and should make for a pleasant August jaunt from Dublin. Mind you, having taken only 52 minutes from the centre of town two weeks ago, last week’s traffic was brutal, and I missed the first.

We will channel our inner Riptide Movement and hope it ‘All Works Out’.

It’s certainly a card worth seeing. Drying conditions over the next couple of days should leave the ground on the easy side of good.


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The Debutante Stakes 18.40 is of most interest to me. Aidan O’Brien runs four. Ger Lyons, Jessica Harrington, and Johnny Murtagh will harbour high hopes of thwarting the Ballydoyle brigade. It’s possible to make a case for all the runners.

This should result in a competitive betting heat. My hopes will be pinned to the powerful backside of PETITIIE MUSIQUE. This filly caught my eye in the Leopardstown parade ring back in June. With her looks and pedigree, she’s not hard to find. She broke pretty well that day but was patently clueless through the race. A promising fifth place saw her enter the notebook. I backed her second time up, again at Leopardstown.

She pulled a remarkable trick that day by looking even more clueless than on her first start.

Missed the break and took an age to get organised. A running on fourth saw me cut a frustrated figure. She next went to Galway. She had a good draw but only if she could take advantage of it. Galway isn’t a track for slow learners. A bit bruised from her previous run, I adopted a watching brief. In the event she pinged the lids, and after a thoroughly professional performance won comfortably.

That form has taken a couple of knocks since. My hunch is that now she has her head in the game this filly will go from strength to strength. I don’t have the jockey bookings at the moment but will not be worried if she isn’t the nominal first string. She’s going to want further in time but this race should be run at a good clip.

She looks worthy of a meaty wager.

Aidan O’Brien should have a couple of other winners. YALE makes his debut in the 18.10. He’s a couple of big entries later in the year. I know the stable adopt a carpet-bombing approach when entering horses – but he must be showing a bit at home all the same. This is a desperate maiden, and there will be some long faces if he doesn’t get the job done.

Ballydoyle’s ARMORY looks hard to oppose in the 7f Group 2 Futurity Stakes at 19.10. There was a temptation to put up the wise guy each-way bet on Justifier. His Tipperary win got a good boost when the second Harpocrates was just chinned at York earlier in the week. I’d expect improvement on better ground. Lope Y Fernandez and Roman Turbo make this a strong-looking renewal. Armory, another product of the breeding speedy mares to Galileo, looks the real deal to me. I take him to continue on his merry way. Like Yale he’s going to be a short price, so I will look elsewhere for value.


It’s probably best to concentrate on the three-year-olds in the 1m 4f Fillies handicap at 19.40. Altair gets a massive class drop having trailed in last at Royal Ascot on her latest start. She’s respected but KASTASA gets the nod. This filly has done well to win half of her four starts. She still looked inexperienced at Sligo last time. Perhaps it was just the tight bends.

She was a bit wayward up the straight also. Her heart looks to be in the right place though. That wasn’t a great race but her margin of superiority was masked. A 5lb rise looks civilised. The Curragh should be right up her alley. Ideally I’d prefer an extra couple of furlongs, but will take a chance on her all the same.

It’s hard to be massively confident in the 6f sprint handicap that closes the card at 20.10. The draw could prove crucial. All things being equal it’s easy to see KODIQUEEN running up a quick hat trick. She won despite dropping in trip to 5f at Cork last time out. The extended 6f should be ideal. While she’s not obviously well treated at the weights, we’re dealing with a fast improving, well-bred filly, running in a grade she no longer qualifies for.

That’s too heady a cocktail for this punter to resist sampling.

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There is also racing at Killarney. I’m hoping it will be a good evening for the green and gold silks. SPADES ARE TRUMPS  (17.55) still has scope after just nine career starts. He’s run pretty well in higher grade on his last couple of starts. It was interesting to see he attracted cash at Galway last time out. His shrewd stable must think there is some mileage in a mark of 129. With the top weight rated just 131, he’s in much calmer waters. With the application of a first-time tongue tie, he looks worthy of support.

The undoubted star of the show is BALLYOISIN in the 2m 5f Handicap Chase 19.25. Already established as one of the best two-mile chasers in Ireland, and as just an eight-year-old, with the potential to rate higher still. It’s a bit surprising to see him running in a handicap. Last season did finish with a bit of a whimper.

Maybe it’s a confidence booster. The views down in Killarney are hard to resist too I suppose. He’s trip versatile, and has a good record fresh. He has a good record full stop in truth. The opposition shouldn’t really be let into the same stable block as him.

His massive class edge can easily override the hefty weight concession.

*Prices correct at time of publishing 

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What do you think?