SHAMROCK: Another Saturday, another day of quality racing from the Curragh, which we preview below.
There are eight races to look forward to, with the action beginning at 1:25pm with a maiden over 1m1f. Joseph O’Brien’s Harsh made a highly promising debut at Galway last month, when making up excellent ground from the back of the field to finish a close fourth. That form has been franked with the third-placed winning since and it would be no surprise to see this colt go one better here.
The feature race on the card is the Group 3 Staffordstown Stud Stakes (2:00pm) over a mile. There should be plenty of improvement to come from Perfect Portrait, but she may have to play second fiddle to impressive debut scorer Be Happy. Aidan O’Brien’s daughter of Camelot holds a 1000 Guineas entry for next season and she can take another step up the ladder here.
Pirate Jenny might be the one in the Listed Pastures Stakes (2:35pm) over 6f. Ger Lyons’ filly has shown herself to be generally consistent at this level and won a Listed race over this trip at Naas in July. She couldn’t follow up in Group 3 company on her most recent start, but this represents a drop in class and she should have every chance of taking advantage against several rivals that are struggling to find form.
An ability to handle the likely soft ground conditions at the Curragh is likely to be an important factor on Saturday and one horse that should do that in the 5f handicap (3:10pm) is Curraheen Princess. This four-year-old filly could hardly have had a better season, winning twice and finishing runner-up four times in her last seven starts. She finished second last time out over this course and distance last month, when ahead of Urban Beat, and despite another small rise in the weights should be capable of going close again.
Next up is a 2½ mile handicap (3:45pm) and it looks a competitive heat with 24 taking their chance. Plenty are of interest, including Lunar Power, Powerful Aggie and Harry’s Legacy, but it might pay to chance Dermot Weld’s Coltor. He won a competitive handicap on the flat at Galway last season off a four-pound lower mark, suggesting he should be feasibly treated off 87, and we know that he will handle ground conditions.
In the 1m4f Ladies Trophy Handicap (4:20pm) the eye is drawn to Andrew McNamara’s Weddell Sea, who made his first start on the flat for this stable most recently after being campaigned over hurdles during the summer. In that 1m1½f contest at Clonmel, he was seen staying on well into third at the finish and should relish this step up in trip.
Lightly raced Redstone Well is an interesting handicap debutant in the apprentice handicap (4:55pm) over a mile. He produced a really game font-running display to win over this trip at Cork last time and while he was a big price it didn’t appear a fluke as there were plenty of decent prospects in behind. The third-placed has since come out and won, giving the form some substance. He could be set for a big run off an opening mark of 77.
The finale is a 6f handicap (5:30pm) and it looks the hardest puzzle on the card to solve. Heavenly Power would be a tentative selection having won a maiden over this course and distance on soft ground last season. While he will need to step up on his recent efforts, he is still lightly raced and is bred to be much better than a mark of 70.