It has been a week of quality racing with excellent performances and classic glory for Siskin and Peaceful with Aidan O’Brien once again flying the Irish flag with several winners at Royal Ascot.
The highlight on the domestic front this week for me has been the good form of the Johnny Murtagh stable with several winners, including excellent money spinner, Pearl Warrior.
Now let’s get to my bets.
Natural improvement from first to second start can see LOBO ROJO land the colts and geldings maiden at Gowran Park for the in-form combination of Jessica Harrington and Dusty Foley. The son of Lope De Vega was beaten a head by Russian Emperor at Naas in March and that form looks rock solid.
Russian Emperor has improved since by winning the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot this week and the Harrington three-year-old can win here for the Ballylinch Stud.
Lobo Rojo had several of Friday’s opposition, including Isaiah and Legal Reform further down the field at Naas and he could develop into a nice handicapper/listed performer later this season.
There is a double header with the listed Victor McCalmont Memorial Stakes the feature at Gowran Park. Lemista drops into listed company having won the Group 3 Park Express Stakes in March and Colin Keane is back in the saddle. She is improving nicely for Ger Lyons and runs off a new mark of 101 and rated the best filly in the field.
Dermot Weld has an exceptional record in this race and runs Mia Maria with cheekpieces applied for the first-time. Most of the Rosewell runners are needing their first run of the season, but any market support for the daughter of Dansili should be noted.
Aidan O’Brien took this prize with Somehow in 2017 and himself and jockey Seamie Heffernan can score yet again this year.
EFLIN QUEEN has progressed for each start to date and takes her chance in listed company for the first time. On paper she won what looked an ordinary maiden at Naas last week, but the manner of that victory suggests better is yet to come from the daughter of American Pharoah. She showed impressive speed in the closing furlong at Naas and the increase in distance will only be a positive.
I stay in Kilkenny for my final selection, HELVIC DREAM for trainer Noel Meade in the closing three-year-old handicap. The handicapper is taking no chances with a mark of 90 on his handicap debut, following back-to-back wins at Roscommon last August and September.
However, I believe he can defy that opening mark and give weight away to rivals under jockey Colin Keane.
The step up in trip will be a positive and any further rain will also help his chances of victory with the Joseph O’Brien pair, Thundering Nights and Numberoneson the main dangers. Meade and Keane landed a gamble with Powerful Ted at Fairyhouse earlier this week and Keane is the go-to jockey for the Tu Va Stables when available.
Last year Meade used Keane 14-times with three-year-olds, producing five winners and a winning 36% strike-rate in the process.
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