It’s only a matter of time before the Jim Bolger stable kicks into gear with winner-after-winner and despite a low-key season so far, which was understandable following the Covid-19 lockdown, the Coolcullen team can land this opening maiden at Leopardstown with MEALA.
The daughter of Epaulette gets weight from the boys and has the best form in the book following two career starts to date with jockey Kevin Manning in the saddle. This filly finished a good fourth on debut at Navan last month behind the Ger Lyons-trained winner Frenetic – a race which has produced several winners since.
That horse has boosted the form with victory in a Listed event at the Curragh, while the second horse at Navan Mother Earth claimed the Group 3 Coolmore Sprint Stakes at Naas last weekend for Aidan O’Brien.
A further form boost came in Meala’s second start when she finished third at Leopardstown, with the second horse home Minaun winning the Group 3 Marble Hill Stakes at Cork last weekend – while the sixth horse Shale broke her maiden at Gowran Park earlier this week for Donnacha O’Brien.
The form is rock solid and Meala should be good enough to see off all opposition here, including Noble Seal, San Martino, Rebel Step and a few from Joseph O’Brien’s yard.
It’s always a punt selecting a horse in an unraced two-year-old maiden, but the ultimate reward is solving a pedigree puzzle and hopefully seeing your winning juvenile progress into a group performer further down the line. This 7-furlong maiden has the look on paper of producing winners over time, with some beautifully bred individuals from some of the best stud farms in the business.
My attention has been drawn towards the Juddmonte home bred MASEN for the Irish 2000 Guineas winning team, with Colin Keane in the saddle for trainer Ger Lyons.
The 7-furlong trip looks ideal on debut with this juvenile by Kingman, out of a Juddmonte mare, Continental Drift, who managed to win over 6 furlongs at Kempton for Roger Charlton.
A entry in the Group 1 National Stakes is a positive later in the season, while it was also encouraging to hear from Teddy Grimthorpe who gave positive signs towards some nice juveniles within the Lyons camp when speaking on RTÉ Television after Siskin’s success in the Guineas earlier this year.
Masen might represent some value against the nicely bred Coolmore runners, Van Gogh and Exuma, while the Moyglare home bred, Blue For You is another to watch on debut with any support in the betting market offering some extra clues.
A field of eight are declared for the Meld Stakes which has been dominated by Dermot Weld and Jim Bolger over the past decade, with both trainers winning four of the last 10 renewals of this Group 3 contest.
Weld is the most successful trainer with nine career victories in this race overall, three of them with the Juddmonte owned Famous Name (2010 to 2012). This year the Rosewell handler runs Georgeville for Prince Khalid Adbullah, with the son of Dawn Approach having an each-way chance following his comeback run behind Ancient Spirit at the Curragh last month.
Elsewhere, Jim Bolger runs Guaranteed who ran behind the Jessica Harrington-trained Leo De Fury in a comeback run at the Curragh last month and looks another who might be chasing for a place prize money at best.
Ultimately, this race comes down to the possible fitness and retained ability of the Roger Varian-trained ZABEEL PRINCE, with Colin Keane booked to ride on his seasonal return. The now seven-year-old was gelded after his debut in 2016, he remains in training with excellent group form in the book and was last seen finishing only 5 lengths behind Too Darn Hot in the Sussex Stakes last year.
Zabeel Prince runs off level weights against his main rivals, both Patrick Sarsfield and Ancient Spirit and is also rated vastly superior to the entire field with an official mark of 117. He earned Group 1 success in the Prix d’Ispahan in Paris last May before finishing down the field against Crystal Ocean and Enable last summer at Ascot and Sandown. Varian has found a good opportunity for him on return to winning ways here.
Despite the fitness concern, he should have enough class to see off the improving Patrick Sarsfield for Joseph O’Brien and double listed winner Ancient Spirit for Jessica Harrington – he looks the best bet on the card.
* Prices on our snazzy new bet widget are bang up to date.
- Horse Racing tips: Timeform’s 3 horses to follow at Ascot on Saturday
- Horse Racing tips: Timeform’s 8 excellent fancies at Newmarket on Saturday
- Horse Racing tips: Matt Chapman’s 9 divine bets for Ascot and Newmarket on Saturday
- Horse Racing tips: Jason Weaver’s 9 nifty punts for Newmarket & Ascot on Saturday
- Horse Racing tips: Mick Fitzgerald’s Saturday Lucky 31 to get the job done on ITV Racing
- Horse Racing tips: Our 3 wonderful wagers at Leopardstown on Saturday