Jessica Harrington landed this Listed contest two-years-ago with Sparkle’n’joy and can secure another success this year with NO SPEAK ALEXANDER for owner Noel O’Callaghan in the opener on Irish Champions weekend.
This juvenile filly found Frenetic too hot to handle on debut before securing maiden success in easy fashion at Roscommon in July under jockey Shane Foley. It was a stylish victory from the daughter of Shalaa, which has been boosted since with Divinely winning the Flame Of Tara at the Curragh last month for Aidan O’Brien.
She returns home this Saturday and has a solid chance to return to winning ways following her fourth-place finish to Richard Fahey’s Fev Rover in the Group 2 Prix du Calvados at Deauville last month.
The opposition is headed by More Beautiful who steps up to 7 furlongs for the first time following two runs at Ascot this summer for team Ballydoyle.
She was a beaten favourite when ninth in the Queen Mary at the Royal meeting in June and sixth on her latest start in the Princess Margaret back in July. Aidan O’Brien also runs Monday with Seamie Heffernan in the saddle, while son Joseph saddles the once raced Earth Strike with Declan McDonagh replacing Doncaster bound Shane Crosse.
She was an impressive winner over course and distance last month on heavy ground and could easily have the ability to see off her main rivals to remain unbeaten.
Donnacha O’Brien has some solid chances this weekend at both Leopardstown and the Curragh with Fancy Blue his leading contender in the Matron Stakes at the Foxrock venue on Saturday afternoon.
However, the first season trainer could easily land the staying handicap at the Dublin track with EMPEROR OF THE SUN even before saddling Fancy Blue in the first Group 1 contest 35-minutes later on the card. The three-year-old only has one career victory to his name, but has excellent form in the book this season to return to winning ways and land this contest under excellent young jockey Gavin Ryan.
He finished fifth to Red Kelly in the Ulster Derby at Down Royal with Johnny Murtagh’s horse finishing a good third behind Galileo Chrome in the Yeats Stakes at Navan two weeks ago.
Strangely enough, this horse finished second in that race at Navan to reverse the form, while Galileo Chrome is taking his chance in the St Leger for Joseph O’Brien also on Saturday afternoon at Doncaster.
If that form wasn’t good enough, he also finished behind Princess Zoe and Pista last month with both of those horses boosting the form since with further victories this week – Princess Zoe won the Oyster Stakes at Galway and Pista the Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster on Thursday.
The first Group 1 on the card is the 2020 Matron Stakes with Fancy Blue, Peaceful, Albigna and two interesting fillies from Johnny Murtagh’s yard all doing battle in a very interesting renewal.
I’ve always loved the Matron Stakes with this race and the Irish Champion Stakes my favourite two races of the entire flat racing season – from Timarida’s success for John Oxx in 1995 to Soviet Song’s victory in 2004, there’s something special about this race which puts a smile on my face. Funnily enough, those two winners were ridden to victory by then jockey Johnny Murtagh who has two solid chances of success this year as a trainer with Know It All and Champers Elysees.
Know It All has the services of new Qatar Racing second retained jockey Cieren Fallon in the saddle and she returns to Irish shores following her excellent third to Watch Me in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville last month.
Champers Elysees steps into Group 1 company for the first time following a listed success at Galway and Group 3 victory in the Fairy Bridge Stakes at Gowran Park earlier this month. However, I’m siding against both those runners and the leading Coolmore classic winners, Fancy Blue and Peaceful with the hope ALBIGNA can strike gold for Jessica Harrington and Shane Foley.
I’ve been no stranger for my love for this mare within this column recently and was disappointed to see her turned over into second place in the Snow Fairy Stakes at the Curragh last month. There were no real excuses for that defeat behind Thundering Nights, and hopefully she’ll show better signs of her 2019 form by reversing the form with Peaceful from the Irish 1000 Guineas in June.
The daughter of Zoffany is already a Group 1 winner and will hopefully show more spark this Saturday to give Jessica Harrington and the Niarchos Family some compensation for Alpha Centauri’s defeat in this race two years ago.
From tipping up a Jessica Harrington-trained runner in the Matron Stakes in Albigna to siding against Cadillac here, it’s a case of completely opposite opinions on two horses from the Moone stable.
I’ll be honest to say Cadillac has not rocked my boat to date and I’ll be happy to be proven completely wrong if he wins this year’s renewal of the Champions Juvenile Stakes over the one mile trip. Yes, he won impressively here on debut in a good time with excellent fractions on the clock, but on paper that didn’t look the strongest of races and for me the form hasn’t been anything special since.
He ran a solid race in the Futurity Stakes on his second start behind Mac Swiney with the extra furlong today looking a positive. However, I’m more than happy to take him on again and look for something with better value at the prices who might improve further to win.
The Dermot Weld-trained BLUE FOR YOU could just be that horse having impressed at Galway landing a maiden the Rosewell team know how to win and he looks overpriced here in my opinion. Despite having a good draw in Galway, he raced in mid-division and looked raw before the penny dropped and he powered home to win in the closing few furlongs in good fashion.
He was only getting into his full stride late on and will appreciate a good gallop and the extra-furlong for his stamina to kick in late for victory.
Ides Of August for Ger Lyons and Jim Bolger’s Jack Duggan are two others at bigger prices who could also knock on the door and reach the frame.
* Prices on our snazzy new bet widget are bang up to date.
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