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LOVE drops outside Group 1 company for the first time in eight consecutive starts and should take the world of beating in the Blandford Stakes for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore. The daughter of Galileo is officially rated 118 and remains at ten-furlongs having deputised for St Mark’s Basilica in the Juddmonte International at York last month. She’s been truly outstanding in her career with her form this season remaining extremely strong despite defeats at the highest level at Ascot and York.
Defeat when third to Adayar can’t be knocked considering Godolphin’s Derby winner was the first three-year-old since Galileo to win the King George. Love raced well again when third behind Mishriff in the International at York and that form is heads and shoulders above anything her rivals on Sunday have shown this season. Woodland Garden will set a strong pace for her stablemate with Love more than capable of staying on best to see off Thundering Nights and the improving La Petite Coco.
The Flying Five looks an absolute cracker with Winter Power, DRAGON SYMBOL and last year’s winner Glass Slippers the leading contenders. Winter Power blitzed the field with an impressive performance when winning the Nunthorpe for Tim Easterby, with Dragon Symbol back in third place. Archie Watson’s horse deserves a change of luck this season having ran so consistently at Group 1 level in the Commonwealth Cup, July Cup, King George, and Nunthorpe Stakes’.
I think the Curragh will suit much better than York where Dragon Symbol made his challenge on the far side before staying on behind Winter Power who raced up the centre of the Knavesmire. This race has been an excellent one for British raiders with Glass Slippers returning for Kevin Ryan following success last year. A victory at the Breeders’ Cup followed and his comeback run at Goodwood puts him right in connection and it’s hard to see him outside the places.
However, it’s now time for Archie Watson, Oisin Murphy and Dragon Symbol to combine at the highest level and a change of luck can come on Sunday afternoon with a late challenge to finally secure that Group 1 prize. Elsewhere, Mooneista deserves plenty of praise for Jack Davison as arguably the leading home challenger having secured victory over course and distance in the Sapphire Stakes in July – hopefully she runs well and can challenge for a place.
Agartha has the best form on offer following back to back victories in Group company but might be out done in the Moyglare by two improving fillies this Sunday. HOMELESS SONGS was impressing Dermot Weld and team before her debut victory at Leopardstown in July and it says a lot that the Rosewell operation are dining at the highest level for the race sponsors on only her second career start. She got the better of Agartha in Foxrock and is beautifully bred by Frankel out of Joailliere, who Weld previously trained to black-type success for Moyglare.
Ger Lyons previously trained Elusive Galaxy to early success and she’s the dam of Cairde Go Geo who won hard held over course and distance last month with connections suggesting a mile would be an ideal trip for her down the line next season. The daughter of Camelot has impressed the Glenburnie team from early doors and it again says plenty for Lyons to race her in this Group 1 contest without a gradual steppingstone. In summary, Agartha might set her own pace like she did in victories in both the Silver Flash and Debutante Stakes’, but I think Homeless Songs might be the hidden gem here for Moyglare and the Rosewell team.
The Andrew Balding-trained Masekela was beaten 6½l behind POINT LONSDALE in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot with that horse only going down a short head to Native Trail at Newmarket in July. The National Stakes is another battle between Coolmore and Godolphin with Charlie Appleby looking for another victory here following success with Quorto (2018) and Pinatubo (2019).
Reach For The Moon has enhanced the form of the Chesham with excellent subsequent victories at both Newbury and Sandown (also entered at Doncaster on Saturday) at the time of writing. Point Lonsdale has seen off Maritime Wings easily at both Leopardstown and here at HQ over course and distance last month. The son of Australia is the standout juvenile for the Ballydoyle team this season and can remain unbeaten despite facing some stiffer opposition with several British raiders.
He’s already shown his versatility for different ground conditions and race tactics and he should make it 5 from 5 with a possible tilt at the Dewhurst or Futurity Stakes his next target. Native Trail looks open to further progression following his Superlative success at Newmarket and looks the pick in the betting without market. Elsewhere, it’s a shame there’s just under the eight-runners here with Phoenix Stakes winner Ebro River and Duke De Sessa looking best to battle out for third place.
TWILIGHT PAYMENT is now contesting his fifth Irish St Leger, with his best finish coming when third to Search For A Song in last year’s renewal. He’s been a horse to remember for Lloyd Williams and Joseph O’Brien since purchased from Jim Bolger, with his Melbourne Cup success last November the highlight of his very consistent career. He was just kept in motion and ticking over early doors this season before sparking back into life at the right time with success in the Leger trial here last month.
The eight-year-old has an excellent record here at the Curragh and is now looking for his seventh victory at HQ. The Irish Leger has eluded him so far, but he can turn his luck around on Sunday under Declan McDonagh with the opposition headed by Search For A Song. Dermot Weld’s top mare is bidding for a third victory and will be surely be on the scene having had a light season, while Baron Samedi, Sonnyboyliston, Passion and Master Of Reality are also in the mix in a competitive renewal.
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