WHO’S JUMPED TOP OF THE CLASSY LEOPARDSTOWN CARD? Shamrock spots a rare jumps intruder on the top-class Leopardstown Flat-race card tonight.
STATS POINT TO 10.5 AND 15.5 BETDAQ OFFERS IN THE BALLYOGAN: Past results suggest that Ireland has the favourite to beat the English raiders in the Ballyogan sprint but those stats also point up 10.5 and 15.5 offers on Betdaq.
NOTABLE ‘NIJINSKY’ NAP: The new Listed race, named after Nijinsky, stars a horse with top-class breeding and a big future, according to trainer Dermot Weld, and is Shamrock’s nap.
Is that you, Ruby? Hidden away among the 80-odd runners at Leopardstown today is none other than Ruby Walsh. And it all makes sense when you work out the maths behind this rare Flat ride for our jumps hero.
A good judge among punters will comb the weights, particularly the lower half of the handicap, to see which jockey is riding on or near his actual bodyweight, so that there is no ‘lead’ – as it used to be – in the saddle, or very little of this ‘dead’ weight.
Right at the top there in the Leopardstown handicap (8.25) is our man, Ruby, and the 10st 5lb set for Salute Him – appropriate ride or what – is just 4lb above his riding weight, whereas regular partner of the Tony Martin gelding, Johnny Murtagh, would have carried 24lb dead weight, since he is a mere 8st 9lb stripling.
This race is all about weight, since only the top 12 of the 17 are in the handicap proper; they’re claiming off five of the 14 probables; and number-eight Leceile is trying to sneak in under the handicapper’s radar with only a 5lb penalty before the mare is reassessed for an all-the-way win at Naas on Monday.
It was Murtagh who probably made the difference on Monday and he switches from Salute Him for the ride again today, with trainer Noel Meade in cracking form with current form figures of 111011003310.
Just struck gold with recent 1110 returns is John Oxx, whose unexposed filly, Celendine, comes co-top of the future ratings with Salute Him and Leceile.
But, since Ruby’s mount – fourth in the prestigious Ebor Handicap at York – can also go with the pace, I see Salute Him and Leiceile taking this field on, in a battle of two of Ireland’s greatest riders, Walsh and Murtagh. I couldn’t resist Salute Him at a superb 8.6 on Betdaq this morning.
6.55 Leopardstown (Ballyogan Stakes) English raiders have won 13 out of 20 Ballyogans, and had the one-two last year with Beyond Desire – then trained Michael Jarvis, now Roger Varian –second to a Clive Cox runner.
When the pair met at Nottingham a month or so back, Cox’s candidate today, Capercaillie, finished about a length in front of Beyond Desire. Whereas Beyond Desire is the one of the pair to have won over 6f, Capercaille has the better draw tonight.
In fact, the draw could be decisive: the winners in the last five years have all railed the Leopardstown loop from stalls 1, 3, 4, 4 and 2. Only a really top-class sort (La Cucaracha 2005) has been able to defy that centrifugal force in recent years.
It took Invincible Ash the same five losing races – he’s been in the first five every time this year, though – before turf form figures last season of 2111 and the mare, in stall one, is a Listed winner twice, whereas Capercaille has failed the last twice when raised to Listed level.
That one had Tweedy (stall 4) behind at Haydock recently but both Tweedy and Timeless Call (stall two) are potential front-runners. What a race we’ve got here, and we haven’t even mentioned the challenge of Aidan O’Brien, with Sing Softly (needs a drop of rain), who is down from Group 3.
Timeless Call (10.5) and Capercaille (15.5) were irresistible offers on Betdaq this morning but Invincible Ash must be a saver and Sing Softly has to be backed if the rains come.
8.55 Leopardstown (Nijinsky Stakes) Leopardstown proudly launches this Listed tonight, and it’s packed with classy sorts.
Banksters Bonus and Luxurious both drop from Group 3 but are totally different animals: a gelding, ‘Banksters’ tends to get left behind and would only come into it with a softer terrain; the filly Luxurious likes to lead and didn’t finish far off that fine yardstick, Banimpire, at Naas.
Manieree had Hurricane Havoc behind in March but Haziyna’s handicap win – that man Oxx again – was faster than Manieree’s Group 3. Like Notable Graduate, she is on the upgrade.
The Galileo colt, Notable Graduate, a half-brother to Media Puzzle and Refuse To Bend, comes here with a massive reputation and should beat the fillies, who make up two thirds of the field, if he is to go on to better things as expected.
NAP: Notable Graduate (8.55 Leopardstown)
NEXT BEST: Tenth Star (6.25 Leopardstown)
OUTSIDERS: Timeless Call and Capercaille (6.55 Leopardstown), Salute Him (8.25 Leopardstown)
DAQ TRIO: Tenth Star (6.25 Leopardstown), Invincible Ash (6.55 Leopardstown), Notable Graduate (8.55 Leopardstown)