The opening one-mile one-furlong maiden at Tipperary on Saturday afternoon looks an open affair in my opinion with the Willie Browne trained DRUK getting the verdict under jockey Billy Lee. The son of Sea The Stars caught the eye with a nice staying on sixth-place finish on debut at Naas with the extra two furlongs looking bang in his favour today. Deputy Sandy, the winner of that Naas maiden was declared for the Star Appeal Stakes at Dundalk on Friday evening and might have boosted the form for our selection with a good performance for Jessica Harrington.
Druk should represent some value against runners from the more established stables with Aidan O’Brien running newcomer Carlisle Bay and Galway fifth, Cleveland. Elsewhere, Eternal Presence was well-backed into favouritism when finishing third on debut at Killarney in August with Dublin Journal from the Jim Bolger team another with previous experience. The son of Teofilo finished behind two Joseph O’Brien-trained runners in two career starts to date, while New Appointment is another from the Bolger yard making her debut under jockey Rory Cleary.
ONTARIO returns quickly after a good second to the improving New Mandate in the Royal Lodge at Newmarket last weekend and should have enough to see off Cosmic Vega in the Listed Churchill Stakes. It’s another good ride this weekend for Epsom Derby-winning jockey Emmett McNamara with trainer Aidan O’Brien winning this race three times in the past four-seasons, including victory with Capri in 2016. The son of Galileo has plenty of experience having been disqualified at Fairyhouse before landing his maiden at Galway and finishing third in the Futurity Stakes back in August.
Cosmic Vega could be the main danger for trainer Jessica Harrington and jockey Shane Foley having landed a touch when winning in good style on debut at Leopardstown in August. Ger Lyons is another trainer with a good record in this contest and saddles To Glory with Gary Carroll in the saddle today. This two-year-old is back from a break since his down the field run behind Ontario in the Futurity at HQ earlier this season. Vafortino is the best of the two Joseph O’Brien-trained runners with Declan McDonagh in the saddle – he’s already beaten two good yard sticks in both Meala and Eastern Voice from the Jim Bolger stable this season and should run well.
ALBIGNA has been disappointing this season but my love affair with this mare from her juvenile campaign pushes me towards siding with her once again in the feature Concorde Stakes on Saturday afternoon. Jessica Harrington has once again decided to drop her into Group 3 company following her latest defeat in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown last month. Despite being turned over by Thundering Nights in this grade at HQ in August, the Harrington team have found a good opportunity against these rivals to secure her first win of the season.
The drop back to seven furlongs shouldn’t be an issue with a strong pace expected with the joint top-rated runner getting plenty of weight from her main rivals. Vatican City returns quickly after a poor performance in the Diamond Stakes at Dundalk eight days ago, while Could Be King only raced four days ago behind Keats in the Listed Navigation Stakes at Cork. Current Option should be in the mix yet again after a good season for the McGuinness team, while the cheekpieces return on Forever In Dreams with the Aidan Fogarty-trained mare stepping up to seven furlongs for the first time since this time last year.
A fine renewal of the PWC Champion Chase with five of the six declared runners only separated by 5lbs in the official ratings, 158 to 153 and Paloma Blue currently the lowest-rated on a mark of 149. Second-season chaser EASY GAME gets the vote to see off some nice opposition here for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend after a confidence-boosting victory at Tramore in August. He beat very little on that occasion, but it was nice to see him get his head back in front after contesting several big races earlier this year.
The six-year-old is lightly raced over fences and has the fitness edge over several rivals, including the Henry de Bromhead-trained Arkle winner, Put The Kettle On with Rachael Blackmore in the saddle. The daughter of Stowaway kept producing the goods last season and was a game winner at the Cheltenham Festival back in March under Aidan Coleman for the One For Luck Racing Syndicate. The Storyteller would appreciate further rain having recently returned to good winning form with back-to-back victories for Gordon Elliott at Galway over both hurdles and fences.
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