Brendan Duke: I’m keen on this 10/1 Machine at Leopardstown

Here's 5 to keep the dream alive at Foxrock.

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Champions weekend is upon us. The Champion Stakes probably doesn’t feature any actual champions. It does have one of the most consistent top-flight performers in the business, and a few progressive rivals. An appetising heat.

The National Stakes on Sunday is another race to savour. The fickle September weather has been kind. Racing will be run on relatively quick ground. As it should be for a premium flat card.

I thought Magical in the Champions Stakes 16.15 and Laurens in the Matron Stakes 17.25 were the most likely winners on the two Group 1’s on Saturday. The layers haven’t missed either though. I will look elsewhere for bets.

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The 7f Ingabelle Stakes at 13.55 kicks off the Leopardstown card and Paddy has found the right favourite in Raven’s Cry.

The trip is probably a bare minimum but this tough, professional, tactically-versatile filly, will not go down easily. One horse the odds compilers have overlooked is LADY JANE WILDE. The reasons are probably two-fold.

She was a 66/1 shot when making a winning debut. Shock winners are often weak in the market next time out. The main reason may be the presence of strong soft ground elements in her pedigree. Given she won on deep ground, that’s a legitimate concern. In her favour is the fact that was one of the most impressive two-year-old performances of the season.

She broke slowly, and was tenderly handled through the race. By the time her jockey realised she had a winning chance, he simultaneously noticed she was going to p*ss in. Having sneaked through a gap late on she won snugly under hands and heels riding.

In fact she pricked her ears and looked around as soon as she hit the front. That backs up the impression that she won with tons in hand. The form has some substance. She was subsequently sold, for a significant sum I’ll wager, and makes her debut for John Oxx tomorrow. I thought she’d be vying for second favouritism.

Ground concerns not withstanding, 15/2 looks far too big a price.

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The Petingo Handicap 14.30 is a competitive affair. MACHINE LEARNER caught my eye. This horse was a luckless second in the 2017 running of this race. He gets to run off a 2lb lower mark on Saturday. His last couple of efforts suggest he’s building towards a peak performance. It’s not impossible this race has been his season-long aim.

Trainer Joseph Tuite has his string in good nick too. Ideally I’d like an extra furlong, and more obvious pace in the race. However Leopardstown is a sneaky, stiff track.

My legs can attest to the unmerciful pull up the hill after jumping off the bus.

Effernock Fizz should ensure a reasonable gallop too. There is enough in the Learner’s favour to make him a solid each-way play at 10/1.

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The Sovereign Path Handicap at 18:00 brings proceedings to a close. The Irish Cambridgeshire form looks very solid. Jassaar, the winner of that race, heads the betting here but at a couple of points higher at 6/1, I’ll take CURRENT OPTION to swing the form of that race around.

Ado McGuinness looks to have made a shrewd purchase. The horse showed plenty of ability in five starts for William Haggas.

He ran well on his Irish debut before taking his form to a new level at the Curragh. It’s reasonable to expect further improvement, and the weight swing with Jassaar looks generous. His wide draw in 11 is something of a concern. In a race not loaded with obvious early pace, this tactically versatile sort should be able to take a handy position.

On Sunday at the Curragh, I thought Kew Gardens should be favourite for the 1m 6f Irish Leger 16.10 – despite his long absence. He was the moral winner of the Coronation Cup to my eye and I imagine he’ll be fit this deep into the season.


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Daahyeh is marginal favourite for the Moyglare Stud Stakes at 15:00 but I’d have had her a shorter price. Her form seems a fair way ahead of chief rival Albigna.

The each-way thieves among you will be licking your lips at the thought of backing Armory in the National Stakes 15.35.

Can’t say I blame you either. He looks the only two-year-old I’ve seen who can put it up to Pinatubo. Agatha Christie couldn’t come up with the twist that sees him fail to make the frame.

David Barron’s Venturous should be a decent price in the 13.20 that opens the card. If he can get away from the stalls cleanly, a big run looks likely.

Finally Great Grey looks handicapped to go very close in the last at 18.00. The odds should be rewarding too in a race where Paddy’s paying 5 places.

*Prices correct at time of publishing on Friday 

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What do you think?