Day two of Irish Champions Weekend and it’s off to the Curragh we go. The going is currently on the easy side of good, with drying conditions look set to prevail for the weekend.
I’d imagine the ground will be officially good come race time and it looks like fiercely competitive with both the National Stakes and Moyglare Stakes on the card, so we should get a much clearer picture of the juvenile pecking order.
Winners will be hard to come by, but here are a few selections that can go well at rewarding odds.
We kick off with a valuable 6-furlong handicap, where extra places sweeten the pill.
There is quite a range of ability among the 22 runners, but I will concentrate my attention towards the top end of the weights.
MR LUPTON was a classy operator in his day and his last win, at this track, came in Group two company.
He hasn’t done a whole pile since, however his latest effort was much more encouraging and that came in the Great St Wilfred in Ripon. That day he finished a close third off a mark of 98, which looks like good form.
He competes off a 2lb higher mark on Sunday, but that is still some way short of his peak rating and the booking of Colin Keane is always a pleasing sight. A repeat of his last run should see him bang there and any improvement could easily see him home in front.
There is plenty of talent on show in the Blandford Stakes, where Magic Wand boasts the highest official rating.
She disappointed last time up and would probably prefer quicker ground. She’s reluctantly passed over all the same.
THUNDERING NIGHTS rates the selection and his likeable filly is progressing at a rate of knots. Her first start in group company came last time out and she ran out a cosy winner.
It’s probable that Albigna, second that day, needed the run. She’s a highly talented sort though and it still ranks as a fair performance from Thundering Nights.
The extra furlong on Sunday looks a positive. This ground, and tactically-versatile sort won’t go down without a fight.
The best bet on a tricky card looks to be FUJAIRA PRINCE in the Irish St Leger and I would have made him jolly. This horse has proven very difficult to train and he has only managed eight career starts in four seasons.
This year, connections have reaped a rich dividend for their patience. A Royal Ascot handicap, and the Ebor have gone their way and in both races, Fujaira Prince travelled ominously well.
He was hanging on a bit towards the end in York, but was probably in front soon enough on taxing ground. The Ebor does a very passable impression of a group race these days and I don’t envisage this step up in grade proving too much trouble.
The opposition are uninspiring too. Twilight Payment is worthy but limited and similar comments apply to Sovereign. Search For A Song has had a bitterly disappointing campaign thus far. I’m not sure that Fujaira Prince needs to improve to win this. He should be improving though, and will be very hard to beat.
I will chance SONNYBOYLISTON in the 10-furlong handicap that closes the card and this horse must defy a 13lbs rise in the handicap.
I have a hunch he has been laid out for this valuable prize and he was a well backed winner of a course and distance handicap in July.
That came on the back of a luckless third in a hot Navan handicap and his immediate victim in the Curragh was none other than Thundering Nights. It would probably be folly to take that too literally.
The subsequent efforts of the third and fourth give the form a solid look though. Johnny Murtagh applies cheekpieces to his charge and that looks a good move.
This horse can hit flat spots in his races which could make life difficult in a 22-runner field. Hopefully, the horse will stay awake in the middle of the race. If so, I’d be more than hopeful he can say goodnight to the opposition on the run to the line.
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