Colin Keane returns to race riding on Thursday following his break for the Siskin ride at Goodwood and can fire an opening winner on the Leopardstown card with ANGEL PALM in this fillies maiden.
The Ger Lyons-trained juvenile finished a decent fourth on debut over course and distance in what has since transpired as a maiden with solid strength in depth. The second Minaun won the Marble Hill Stakes at Cork for Henry de Bromhead, with the third filly home Meala running out an easy winner at Galway for Jim Bolger.
The form was also boosted by the sixth horse Shale, who recently claimed victory in the Silver Flash Stakes here in Foxrock last week for Donnacha O’Brien.
Natural improvement from her first to second start looks likely for the daughter of Dark Angel, especially when coming from the Lyons stable and she can secure victory from rivals Harannda and Friendly.
The Dermot Weld-trained Harannda looks the main danger for me after her second-place finish at the Curragh on debut – she was slightly bumped by the winner when making a challenge in the closing half-furlong and will certainly know more today.
Friendly is another with raw potential having been sent-off favourite for a Curragh maiden in late June with the extra-furlong looking a positive for Aidan O’Brien’s daughter of Galileo who finished fourth at HQ.
Jim Bolger has found a golden opportunity for AGITARE to finally break his maiden after seven previous attempts on the racetrack, with his recent gelding operation playing the key factor today.
The son of Teofilo has finished behind some nice horses to date, including Cormorant, Sinawann and Mogul – and on paper, this one-mile maiden won’t take much winning under jockey Kevin Manning. His seasonal debut in June was behind Cormorant in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial, which suggests Bolger believes there’s decent ability within, before he finished third as a beaten favourite behind Delphi at the Curragh later that month.
He returns to Leopardstown for a fifth time this Thursday and can see off this opposition having been gelded last month with Jungle Cove, Pin Your Hopes and Dark Pine looking the main dangers.
Dark Pine was behind Agitare here last season but disappointed badly at odds-on for Dermot Weld in a weak looking contest at Dundalk last month, while Jungle Cove looks open to improvement for the Harrington team following a seasonal third at Gowran Park in June.
Elsewhere, Pin Your Hopes did improve for his debut eight place finish here when finishing third at Naas 10 days ago and looks another fighting for the place for trainer Andy Oliver.
Jim Bolger landed the Desmond Stakes with Tribal Beat in 2016 and I’m hoping himself and Kevin Manning can strike again this year with lightly raced FISCAL RULES in the feature race.
The son of Make Believe finished second to Wichita in a Curragh maiden last season before running a creditable fifth to Siskin on his seasonal return in the Irish 2000 Guineas. Remaining a maiden and keeping the faith in his ability, Bolger sent his three-year-old back to HQ to finish fifth in the Irish Derby behind Santiago, which was another excellent effort on only his third career start.
Dropping back to Group 3 company and returning to one-mile are positives for Fiscal Rules to break his maiden today in a race which has been previously won six times in 10 years by three-year-olds. He’s rated 106, three pounds lower than main rival Ancient Spirit (109) on official ratings, but receives seven-pounds from the Harrington runner who has solid form in the book this season.
The five-year-old battled to victory in the Heritage Stakes at Navan before seeing off another of today’s rivals, Bowerman in the Celebration Stakes at Cork and was more recently second to Patrick Sarsfield in the Meld Stakes here last month.
It would be remiss of me not to discuss some other rivals, with Trais Fluors finishing behind Ancient Spirit in the Meld Stakes, while Royal Dornoch for Aidan O’Brien drops back in grade following his runs this season in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and St James’ Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Etneya for the Aga Khan and Dermot Weld combination looks an interesting filly in the line-up following an impressive victory on debut at the Curragh last month, elsewhere Tom Hogan’s Nebo with Wayne Lordan in the saddle looks the obvious pacesetter and outsider.
Despite finishing behind Sunchart at Tipperary last season, DAWN PATROL has improved the better as a three-year-old so far this season and is now rated 107 for Aidan O’Brien following some creditable runs this campaign.
His staying on third caught in the eye in the Irish Derby behind stable-mate and winner Santiago, before Wayne Lordan produced a sit and steer job from the front to claim his maiden at Naas last month.
Seamie Heffernan returns to the saddle today and he steps up in trip here as a stepping stone to a possible run in the St Leger at Doncaster next month.
It’s interesting to see Colin Keane riding Emperor Of The Sun for Donnacha O’Brien, while father Aidan also runs Shoshone Warrior with Joseph O’Brien running Hy Brasil, Mr Mooj and Pista.
Emperor Of The Sun was second to Princess Zoe at Galway, while Mr Mooj was fancied for recent handicaps at Leopardstown and Sligo, with Pista very impressive when winning her maiden at Galway with Shane Crosse in the saddle.
Sunchart finished eighth in the Irish Derby for Andy Slattery, but found Red Kelly too good when running second in the Ulster Derby at Down Royal last month.
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