Last weekend was a frustrating one for Irish race fans. Lightning caused the postponement of the Gowran card. Coupled with a blank Sunday, I didn’t really know what to do with myself. Perhaps I should get a new hobby. Pottery is a good way to meet women apparently.
We’ll see how the Curragh’s two-day fixture treats me before making any dramatic, ceramics based, lifestyle changes. There should be no such issues this weekend. As a fan of idioms, I’m very confident lightning will not strike the industry two weeks running. That’s not to say the weather will be kind. Plenty of rain about. We can safely assume soft ground.
I will concentrate on Sunday’s card for the purposes of this piece.
The Beresford Stakes (4 pm) is the highlight of Sunday’s card. It’s a race with a rich tradition. It usually pays to follow Aidan O’Brien in this race. He will be represented by likely short priced fav Innisfree. While he’s undoubtedly the most likely winner, my hunch is the market might overrate him.
Shekhem will probably be second favourite, somewhere around the 5/1 mark. At around that price, I’d be happy to support him. He was beaten a neck by Innisfree at the Galway Festival. That day he travelled like the best horse. He was a touch keen early, and that coupled with Innisfree having the rail, may have made the difference. He was subsequently second to the hugely promising Mogul before breaking his maiden in a reasonable Listowel maiden on soft ground. He wouldn’t be good enough to win an average Beresford. There are reasons to suspect this is an ordinary renewal though.
The other group race on the card is the Weld Park Stakes (2.50 pm). This is definitely a below-par renewal. Deidra, like Shekhem, took four runs to get off the mark. Interestingly she was heavily backed to do so. The cash was surprising given she was starting to look pretty exposed. It seems reasonable to assume that she had shown connections some improvement in the lead up to that run.
She was most impressive that day, and looks a filly on the up. She was very strong at the line in Naas, and the extra furlong here should help. Further progress will be required on Sunday, though not a massive amount. She’s unproven on the ground but the progeny of Dark Angel are generally versatile sorts. Given her profile it’s quite possible that the market might be a little dismissive of her chances. If it is, I will be happy to take advantage.
Another horse to show improvement on the Naas card where Deidra won her maiden was The King Of Kells. He gets a chance to prove that wasn’t a fluke in the nursery that closes the card (5.35 pm). That Naas run came 10 weeks after his fourth run. Perhaps connections found an underlying issue. It was certainly a case of the pause that refreshes. Having run up a hat trick of last-place finishes, he went to post an unconsidered 25/1 shot.
In the event he was competitive all the way, pushing the winner close late on. In the circumstances, the handicapper has taken a reasonable line in only putting the horse up one pound. That run, over five furlongs, suggested the extra distance here will be right up his street.
Sunday’s race also represents a slight drop in class. The ground is probably another positive. Both his sire and dam produced their best efforts on deep going. Given the price he went off a Naas, and the size of the field on Sunday, I think we will get close to a double figure price. That would tempt me.
Brendan Duke’s Sunday Selections:
Curragh 2.50pm: Deidra @ 16/1
Curragh 4.00pm: Shekham @ 7/2
Curragh 5.35pm: The King of Kells @ 9/2
*All prices correct at time of posting