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Gordon can flash to victory and Jack can throw a Curve-ball - The Irish News
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Gordon can flash to victory and Jack can throw a Curve-ball

CLOSE TO RETIREMENT: Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Hamdan Al Maktoum, expects Royal Ascot and July Cup hero Muhaarar to be retired at the end of the season. The Charlie Hills-trained three-year-old (blue colors) was a brilliant winner of the inaugural Commonwealth Cup last month and added another Group One prize to his CV with a last-gasp triumph in a thriller on the July Course last weekend. “The problem with him is he’s very important to the breeding operation,” said Gold. “Sheikh Hamdan is mad about his breeding and we’ve been looking for a horse like this for a very long time – a well-bred, good-looking horse with speed. He’s won two Group Ones as a three-year-old and a Group-race as a two-year-old. “If I was a betting man I would say he’ll probably be at stud (next year), but let’s see what happens for the rest of the year.” The Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville is Muhaarar’s most likely next objective
Neville Ring

GORDON Lord Byron was impressive at the Irish Derby meeting and comes back for more at the Curragh tomorrow in the Group Three Minstrel Stakes.

Tom Hogan’s globe-trotting stable star will find the ground conditions very suitable and the seven year-old would appear to have most things going for him.

Along with last year’s winner Ansgar, he concedes weight to all arounf him but this is arguably a stronger race, quality-wise and numerically, than a year ago when Darwin was very disappointing against Ansgar.

Sovereign Debt was also successful at the Derby meeting, taking a Listed contest in some style.

He’s a couple of pounds higher now but gets a useful 5lb from Gordon Lord Byron and is definitely a player.

Of the three-year-olds in the race, Hugo Palmer’s Home Of The Brave, beaten six lengths in the Ascot Group One won by Muhaarar, looks better than Rapid Applause.

Gordon Lord Byron can concede the weight and still take this.

Newmarket pair Talmada and Mutatis Mutandis may prove too good for the home-trained fillies Brooch and Bocca Baciata in the Group Two Kilboy Estate Stakes.

On an afternoon which stages four races for fillies only, Katie T and Sparkle Factor (in a first-time visor) might fight out the finish of the mile fillies’ handicap.

The first nursery of the season attracts just seven runners, with Dancing On Air making some appeal off 78 with Ana O’Brien claiming a handy 7lb.

In the two-mile handicap, Digeanta might be able to contain Awesome Star and Encrypted Message en route to Galway, while the 92-rated Athassel Abbey is surely capable of taking the 10-furlong fillies’ maiden.

Sandy can mount yet another winning bid

TOMORROW'S National Hunt meeting at Tipperary is a tame enough card but there’ll be plenty of interest in the three-mile novice hurdle.

Sandymount Duke bids for a hat-trick on the back of last month’s two wins at Punchestown and Kilbeggan.

Both victories were easily gained and he had plenty in hand most recently at Kilbeggan when beating Aunt Alice and the re-opposing Speed Demon by over 10 lengths and 20 lengths respectively.

There’s not much chance of Speed Demon reversing the placings and a bigger threat might emerge from another Kilbeggan winner in Daisy’s Gift, a facile scorer from Duckweed there at the end of May on her return to action.

The Willie Mullins mare seems to have plenty of scope and is battle-hardened enough to take on Sandymount Duke with some prospects of turning him over.

Shantou Flyer has earned himself a rating of 128 and, even with 5lb of a penalty, he could still be a force but his most recent effort when pulled up in a Downpatrick beginners’ chase won by Fort Smith early last month wasn’t encouraging.

It really looks a match and Sandymount Duke might successfully concede the 7lb to Daisy’s Gift.

Ruby Walsh (pictured), Daisy’s Gift’s, partner may earlier have taken the opening maiden hurdle on Lisa’s Legacy, who boasts a Flat mark of 76 as well as a hurdle rating of 107.

She should manage the 8lb concessions to Little Jimmy Brown and Minella Berry.

Copy Print, Miss Peacetime and Cloudy Morning look a likely trio in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle.

There are three chases on the card, two of them handicaps.

Knockraha Prince was a snug enough winner at Killarney’s July meeting during the week.

The handicapper gave him a 5lb rise, whereas he has a mandatory 6lb to shoulder here.


Still looks a fine betting proposition against Tisamystery and Lilly the Lioness.

In the beginners’ chase, the experienced Stonehall Jack may have something in hand of most of these in a race confined to animals with a mark over hurdles of 102 or less.

Pierlow, Calton Entry and Letttermacward are others of interest while Sir Harry Cash is preferred over Bishops Road and the Down Royal June winner Bellgrove.

Jack can throw a Curve-ball

DAVID Wachman believes his 112-rated Curvy will have to step up again to supplement her Royal Ascot success in the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh this afternoon.


Although she showed little in three outings last season, the Galileo filly has made massive strides this term to win each of her four starts after starting off in a handicap with a rating of 72.

Having accelerated through the ranks, Curvy made an instant impact when switched to Pattern company, winning the Gallinule Stakes before stepping up to 12 furlongs for the first time to add the Ribblesdale at Ascot to her haul.

While that victory marks her down as a major player on her first venture into Group One company, Wachman is under no illusions as to the task his charge is facing.

“She has been improving from run to run and she will need to step up again if she is to win as she is going from Group Two to Group One level,” he said.

Jessica Harrington expects the flatter track to suit Jack Naylor much better than the undulations of Epsom.

After finishing a solid fourth in the Irish 1,000 Guineas on her seasonal return, the daughter of Champs Elysees took her chance in the Epsom Oaks but could finish only sixth behind the reopposing Qualify.

“She has had a nice break as the Irish Guineas and English Oaks came quickly one after the other,” said Harrington (above).

“She is not the biggest horse and when you watch the replay, she got bumped in the straight and just become unbalanced.

“The track at the Curragh will suit her better and she has won well there before, while we are hoping for a little bit of rain.”

Covert Love is unbeaten in three starts so far this season but faces a steep rise in grade after winning the Listed Hoppings Stakes at Newcastle and is arguably the filly with the most potential to improve.

However, her trainer Hugo Palmer feels the experience she gained in beating older horses in that race could prove valuable back against her own age group.

“We took on older horses and the majority in the Irish Oaks have only beaten their own generation, so it might make us a bit more battle-hardened,” he said.

James Fanshawe expects the step up to 12 furlongs to pose no problems for the hat-trick seeking Speedy Boarding. After opening her account in a maiden at Goodwood on her seasonal bow, the three-year old successfully followed up on her first try at Listed level when landing the Ballymacoll Stud Stakes at Newbury last month.

Fanshawe said: “As she has a lovely long stride, it’s a middle-distance sort of action.”

Aidan O’Brien, trainer of last year’s winner Bracelet, will be represented by Epsom winner Qualify, the unbeaten Words, Together Forever and Kissed By Angels as he chases a fifth victory in the race.

Joseph O’Brien has picked Words as his choice of the quartet in the absence of injured number one jockey Ryan Moore.

In theory he is probably correct, but this is not a high-class Oaks.

At Epsom they just couldn’t get out of their own way and the winner Qualify is as big as 10/1 for today’s race. I’m keen enough to take a chance with Jack Naylor to spring a mild surprise after her unfortunate run around Epsom, where she was beaten just over six lengths behind Qualify.

Michael Dods is hoping the forecast rain hits the Curragh to allow him to run Mecca’s Angel in the Invincible Spirit Sapphire Stakes this afternoon.

Not seen since slamming a decent field in France on her reappearance in early May, her promising season is in danger of slipping away due to the fast ground this summer.

Well fancied for the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot, she was a late withdrawal as the ground dried out rapidly.

She also missed a recent race at Sandown for which she was declared, but Dods is hoping to run her today.

“I’m hoping for good news from Ireland at some point to tell me it’s raining as it has dried up to good to firm again,” said the Durham-based trainer.

“If it’s good ground we’ll go, but not if it’s good to firm.

Mecca’s Angel, rated 113 and with the 3 lb fillies’ allowance to help her is by far the best treated of the seven runners in the Group Two five-furlong sprint and with the Curragh ground changing to good-to-yielding there should be no underfoot problems.

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