The Aidan O’Brien-trained ONTARIO is effectively a winner without a plenty having been disqualified when first past the past in a 7-furlong maiden at Fairyhouse last month.
It was the correct decision by the stewards as the Moyglare-owned runner Reve De Vol was bumped and disadvantaged in a battling finish between jockeys Mick Hussey and Donagh O’Connor in the closing half furlong.
The son of Galileo will appreciate the step-up in trip, has the benefit of two racecourse starts and is the choice of jockey Wayne Lordan, with Padraig Beggy riding stablemate HMS Seahorse.
Ontario was only beaten just under 7-lengths on debut in a decent maiden at Naas on debut in early June and that race has produced several winners since, including stablemate Battleground who claimed the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Vintage Stakes earlier this week at Goodwood.
The main dangers are fellow Coolmore-owned runners HMS Seahorse, who was a staying on fourth on debut at the Curragh two-weeks ago and Snowy Owl for Donnacha O’Brien, who finished just in behind in fifth place.
Halite might improve for Dermot Weld, but failed to catch the eye when having an educational first start at Killarney last month and will need to find plenty to beat Ontario.
The extended mile handicap looks a belter with several horses in with chances here, including the Johnny Murtagh-trained CALL ME ROCKY on his handicap debut under jockey Shane Kelly.
The handicapper has handed the son of Society Rock a rating of 80 following a fine maiden success at Limerick last month and a good draw in five. Another forward ride can see him progress further and give the stable another winner this week. Murtagh is currently in excellent form and this horse is also owned by Fitzwilliam Racing, who had luck already this week with impressive listed winner Champers Elysees.
Talking Tough returns quickly for trainer Mick Mulvaney, but is drawn badly in stall eleven and now rated 11-pounds higher for winning here on Monday. Meanwhile second Soaring Monarch also takes his chance, now running off 83 for Peter Fahey.
Dermot Weld’s Magic Chegaga is another on the shortlist on her handicap debut following a first start behind Lemista last season and two improving third place finishes at Gowran Park and Leopardstown this season. Elsewhere, Zoom Zoom Babe looks the biggest danger to our selection with Joseph O’Brien’s horse running very creditable efforts this season behind some nice opposition.
This 7-furlong maiden could be fought out between the Kevin Prendergast-trained Iron Sheriff and my selection ZOZIMUS for trainer Donnacha O’Brien, with very little between these improving juveniles.
Both horses have previous experience with the Prendergast runner finishing a nice staying on third on debut at Bellewstown, while Zozimus also caught the eye when kicking on strongly in the closing furlong over 6-furlongs at Cork last month.
The clear difference between the two in my opinion is that the O’Brien runner has better form after his two career starts – he finished down the field against the impressive Cadillac on debut in Foxrock, while also beaten by Eastern Voice in Mallow.
The Jim Bolger-trained Eastern Voice is a good yardstick having previously finished ahead of Battleground in a Naas maiden earlier this season, while also running behind Frenetic in listed company and finishing down the field in the Railway Stakes. That form looks solid and the claim of excellent young jockey Gavin Ryan is another positive for the chances of Zozimus who will appreciate the return to 7-furlongs on Saturday.
Any market support for the Joseph O’Brien newcomer Kauri Cliffs in the colours of owner Wendy O’Leary would be interesting, while No Patience for the Slattery’s and Star Image for Tom Mullins could be fighting for third.
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