SHAMROCK: While many eyes will be on Ascot for British Champions Day on Saturday, there’s some excellent domestic action
, with a cracking eight-race card at Leopardstown to get stuck into.
The action begins at 1:30pm with a fillies’ maiden over a mile. The form of Sounds Of Heaven’s debut fourth at Gowran Park in September was given a real boost when the second from that race came out and won the Group 3 Staffordstown Stud Stakes at the Curragh last weekend. Jessie Harrington’s daughter of Kingman should go close with normal improvement but can only be a tentative selection with Starry Eyed and plenty of interesting newcomers in opposition.
Another maiden (2:05pm) over a mile comes up next. Again, there are any number of interesting debutants but it’s hard not to be drawn to Aidan O’Brien’s Peking Opera. This Galileo colt holds an entry in next year’s Epsom Derby and while he looked to get outpaced over 7f on debut at Naas, this extra distance is sure to bring about improvement.
There are plenty of interesting handicap debutants, as you would expect, in the following nursery handicap (2:35pm). One who could be well ahead of her opening mark of 68 is Noel Meade’s Tea Olive. This filly has run several promising races in strong maidens – notably at Leopardstown in July when behind the smart Caroline Street and then last time at Naas in August, when she wasn’t beaten far by subsequent Group 3 winner Lumiere Rock – and should go well for Colin Keane.
In the 7f handicap (3:10pm) impressive last-time-out winner Run The Jewels may prove tough to beat again. One that could offer more value each way though is The Mpex Kid. Ciaran Murphy’s six-year-old has dropped to his last winning mark and bounced back to form with a good second on soft ground at the Curragh this week. Turned out quickly, he looks capable of going well again with Shane Foley up.
The Group 3 Killavullan Stakes (3:45pm) over 7f is the feature race on the card and it looks an intriguing contest. Both the Aidan O’Brien contenders, Cairo and Sierra Blanca, bring strong form to the table, while it was hard not to be impressed by Jessie Harrington’s Bold Discovery on debut. Soft ground is a worry for that US-bred type though and at bigger prices it could pay to take a chance on Dermot Weld’s Tiverton who has been highly consistent in three starts to date.
Next up is the Listed Trigo Stakes (4:20pm) over 1m2f. Many of these are on something of a recovery mission. That isn’t the case with Self Belief though, who looked a bit unlucky in Listed company on only his second career start most recently over 1m1f at Listowel. Any softening of the ground won’t inconvenience this son of Make Believe and he should relish this step up in trip too.
Remaining over 1m2f in the following maiden (4:55pm) Fawkner Park may be able to spring a surprise and get the better of Realism. Joseph O’Brien’s colt was green on debut just two weeks ago at Killarney but hit the line strongly that day suggesting better days were ahead.
A field of 19 are set to go to post in the closing Leopardstown October Handicap (5:30pm), a valuable prize over 1m4f. An opening mark of 93 looks quite stiff for Magellan Strait but he has been highly progressive in winning two of his last three starts and there could be a bit more still to come.