COUNTDOWN STARTS TOMORROW TO ANOTHER O’BRIEN DERBY? All who dared oppose Aidan O’Brien were out for the count last night (1-2-3-4!) as Ballydoyle took the first four places in the Irish Derby. Tomorrow another countdown begins, as Daqman checks out the chances of O’Brien being beaten in the Epsom Derby next weekend.
THE CURRAGH TODAY: CAN MAGICAL SEE OFF 11.0 IMPROVER? Today’s third day at The Curragh stars Magical but an improver in the race is a huge price (11.0) on BETDAQ, getting a lump of weight. The nap is at Windsor, where a Group-3 winner appears to have been gifted a chance to double up in a lesser race.
🔹 ‘STRONG’ FORM FOR KEANE MOUNT
🔹 NO CHALLENGE TO THE FAVOURITE
🔹 11.0 SHOT COULD ROCK MAGICAL
🔹 WINDSOR: SMOOTH FOR STORMY
‘STRONG’ FORM FOR KEANE MOUNT
⭕ 3.45 The Curragh (Rockingham Handicap) English raiders have turned over the home team five years out of nine with their jockeys poised for a hat-trick today. It won’t happen.
The 44,250-euro prize will stay in Ireland and one likely home for it is 20 minutes down the road at the Portarlington yard of Kieran Cotter.
Kieran has booked Colin Keane to continue his association with his Curragh course-and-distance winner of just 15 days ago, Strong Johnson (around 4.0 in the BETDAQ orange, as I write).
Strong Johnson is up 9lb for that but mostly raced alone that day, having no trouble seeing off a field of 12, with the runner-up, Son And Sannie, slamming a 15-strong Naas cavalry charge in his next start.
It was always the plan to get Strong Johnson into a decent handicap and connections will be delighted to see him in here, getting weight from all bar half a dozen who really don’t have much right to be in the race.
Jungle Jane and Maid Of Spirit were also winners first run back, but the one I fear most is Group-placed Alligator Alley, with Joseph O’Brien attempting what Aidan did two years ago, win it with a three-year-old.
Alligator Alley was runner-up in the Molecomb as a juvenile, and his reappearance run, beaten a length in a big field at Naas, giving the first horse home 5lb, makes him a winner without a penalty today (BETDAQ 6.3).
NO CHALLENGE TO THE FAVOURITE
⭕ 4.15 The Curragh (Greenlands Stakes) A Group-2 sprint, in which the English are six from 10, and this time are back for more. Or at least 2012 winner Kevin Ryan is.
He saddles Lowther Stakes placed and Nottingham Listed winner, Queen Jo Jo, a grey who was runner-up at Haydock on her return. She has won second time out for the past two seasons.
That was the good news, and I might have backed her progress with hard cash, had this been a handicap.
But she is reckoned to have to find up to 10lb on all bar Chessman and All The King’s Men. Make A Challenge off 112 and Forever In Dreams (111) are the top two rated.
Make A Challenge is a CD winner twice, one of them a Listed, and his Curragh form reads 1211. He finished a close fifth in the British Champions Sprint in October, separating Forever In Dreams (3rd) and Speak In Colours (6th).
Speak In Colours has been in the frame in Group-1 events and was fifth in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot eight days ago.
It looks close on paper but, with Forever In Dreams and Speak In Colours both now five races running without a win, the finishing power of Make A Challenge (form 110-01) is taken to triumph again: 2.73 taken on BETDAQ this morning.
11.0 SHOT COULD ROCK MAGICAL
⭕ 4.45 The Curragh (Pretty Polly Stakes) Only five runners but Magical! Punters will forgive a small field only if they recognise a star.
Magical is four times a Group-1 winner and landed a hat-trick in her first three starts last season.
Only Enable could beat her after that, with the two magical mares separated only threeparts of a length in the Eclipse.
The three-year-olds get 12lb from Magical today but Cayenne Pepper is said to need the run and Roca Roma is short on experience, having run just two races, compared with Magical’s 21.
But three-year-olds have won three of the last five Pretty Pollys and, as well as the speed she showed in making all at Gowran Park just nine days back, Roca Roma has bags and bags of stamina in her pedigree. The BETDAQ win offers of 11.0 were huge; equally so at 3.6 a place.
WINDSOR: SMOOTH FOR STORMY
⭕ 3.00 Windsor Such are the vagaries of conditions racing that Stormy Antarctic (BETDAQ 3.95) could win a Newbury Group-3 some 15 days ago, but drop a grade to a Listed today without the penalty he carried then.
And the ‘dangers’ in the market are a handicapper (Pogo) and a six-year-old (Accidental Agent) who hasn’t won for two years.
Davydenko might do better, with trainer Sir Michael Stoute 4-10, but the stable’s flop of yesterday at Newcastle – my nap, Mubakker – was found to be coughing. We wait and see what that means for the yard.
⭕ 3.35 Windsor Overwrite, sixth in the Britannia, gets 12lb from Surf Dancer, hampered when beaten at Sandown but surely disappointing with his two runs since last August both out of the frame.
Jean Baptiste has to step up to a class-2 winner’s enclosure from places only in class 4, and Dance Fever’s hat-trick was achieved at that low level. I took 5.0 Overwrite.
3.00 Windsor (win 20)
BET 6.75pts win (nap) STORMY ANTARCTIC
3.35 Windsor (win 20)
BET 5pts win OVERWRITE
3.45 The Curragh (win 20 each)
BET 6.75pts win STRONG JOHNSON
BET 3.75pts win ALLIGATOR ALLEY
4.15 The Curragh (win 20)
BET 11pts win MAKE A CHALLENGE
4.45 The Curragh (win 20, win 10 a place)
BET 2pts win and 3.75pts place ROCA ROMA
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