The Ballinrobe card this Saturday lunchtime gets underway with a cracking juvenile hurdle with Willie Mullins, Gordon Eilliott and the in-form Noel Meade all represented among a field of six runners. There wasn’t much between most of these on flat ratings, but DARK VOYAGER had the more interesting form and should get off the mark over hurdles on debut in the colours on Gold Cup winning owners, Joe and Marie Donnelly.
The son of Raven’s Pass raced against Mogul and Persia as a juvenile and finished behind progressive runners, Red Kelly and Flying Scotsman in July. Despite finishing behind Crassus at Galway last year and having less experience over hurdles in public, his Galway success on the level looked impressive enough to suggest he’ll perform well over hurdles this season for team Mullins.
Elsewhere, Noel Meade is enjoying a fine run at present with Crassus the choice of stable-jockey Sean Flanagan over Perry Owens, while Zanahiyr looks another fascinating prospect for Gordon Elliot. The ex-Aga Khan owned youngster was down the field behind Galileo Chrome and Serpentine at the Curragh in June, before breaking his maiden at Fairyhouse in July for Michael Halford.
REAL FORCE has some solid form in the book this season and can secure victory in the Listed Knockaire Stakes for trainer Ger O’Leary and jockey Chris Hayes. The three-year-old was only beaten by 5 lengths behind Siskin in the Railway Stakes as a juvenile last season and has done well this year, including victory at Tipperary in August.
The form of that race has worked out well since with the third home, Sheer Bravado landing three successive handicaps for Jim Bolger. His latest second behind French Guineas third Alson in Listed company at Saint-Cloud earlier this month puts him right in the mix here, and he is the horse to beat here.
John Patrick Ryan runs two horses in this rated novice hurdle with the consistent FAIRYHILL RUN having a solid chance of returning to winning ways here at Ballinrobe. Previous track experience is always a positive around this venue, with the daughter of Mahler winning nicely here in early September before back-to-back place runs at Listowel and Limerick.
She went up 4lbs in the ratings for her good second at Limerick, with Sean O’Keeffe taking off 3lbs today in a what looks a good jockey booking by the trainer. Elsewhere, Arthur’s Baby has gone up 10lbs for victory at Listowel, while My Uncas should improve for a first run of the season and The Sliding Rock is another for the shortlist for Gordon Elliott and Bryan Cooper.
Aidan O’Brien and Dermot Weld have dominated the feature Killavullan Stakes with 13 winners between them over the past 20 years, including success for team Rosewell with Grey Swallow in 2003. Erzindjan represents Dermot Weld here and despite a visually impressive victory at Cork, the form doesn’t look the strongest since and we’re inclined to give ONTARIO another chance today.
He finished third in the Futurity Stakes and second in the Royal Lodge at Newmarket, which is good form, before travelling well and being outbattled when second to Sweet Gardenia at Tipperary earlier this month. The John Jo Murphy winner has franked the form since with another Listed success at the Curragh to suggest Ontario can win here. Impressive debut winner Federal looks the biggest danger for Joseph O’Brien.
AISEIRIGH returns from a break following a fine seventh-placed finish on debut at the Curragh earlier this year, which has since produced two classic winners of the 2020 flat season. The winner of that maiden Galileo Chrome took the St Leger for Joseph O’Brien at Doncaster last month and the fifth-horse Serpentine claimed the Epsom Derby for Aidan O’Brien.
The son of Teofilo raced forward at HQ before getting tired in the closing few furlongs and only finished just over 5-lengths behind the winner (Galileo Chrome) and 2-lengths behind Serpentine. Yankie Stadium is the best of the O’Brien runners with Seamie Heffernan in the saddle, while the in-form Noel Meade runs Charlie Bassett who has finished second on his last four starts on the level.
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