IR­ISH RACING

Tony Keenan with his list of Ir­ish horses to see us through un­til the jumps start proper

Racing Ahead - - CONTENTS -

Tony Keenan se­lects the horses to get us through to the jumps ac­tion

In pre­view­ing Ir­ish Cham­pi­ons Week­end last month, I wrote about Ai­dan O’Brien’s dom­i­na­tion of the Flat sea­son,both home and away,and how the other main Ir­ish Flat train­ers had largely strug­gled.

Those cir­cum­stances didn’t quite tran­spire over the week­end it­self;O’Brien and the UK train­ers had five win­ners apiece while the other Ir­ish yards had six be­tween them so there were some green shoots ahead of the au­tumn cam­paign. This was es­pe­cially the case for Dermot Weld and Jim Bol­ger who both had a pair of win­ners which will give them some hope as the bulk of the main back­end ac­tion shifts away from Ir­ish shores.

This re­mains the sea­son of O’Brien, how­ever,and when his three Group 1 wins over Ir­ish Cham­pi­ons Week­end were put with Capri’s win in the English Leger it leaves the trainer on 18 Group 1 win­ners for the sea­son.

This look-ahead to the key horses for the ma­jor re­mains races of the sea­son nec­es­sar­ily fo­cuses on the Bal­ly­doyle team with Amer­i­can trainer Bobby Frankel’s 25 Group 1 wins record very much in play.There are, how­ever, a hand­ful of other Ir­ish run­ners worth keep­ing on side in the near-term.

WIN­TER (A O’BRIEN) Pos­si­ble tar­gets: Prix De l’Opera (Chan­tilly, Oc­to­ber 1st), Cham­pion Stakes (As­cot, Oc­to­ber 21st)

The late rev­e­la­tion thatWin­ter had missed time ahead of her run in the Ma­tron Stakes left a bad taste in the mouth and Ai­dan O’Brien re­ally should have made the bet­ting pub­lic aware of her train­ing set­back long be­fore the eve of the race given the high-pro­file na­ture of the filly. In any case, it looked like she was un­done by fit­ness on the day, trav­el­ling best and hit­ting 1/9 in­run­ning be­fore giv­ing best to the much less-tal­ented Hy­drangea in the fin­ish.That run should leave her spot on for next time with a step back up to 10 fur­longs po­ten­tially on the cards; it is pos­si­ble that Churchill could re­turn to the straight mile for the QEII while she is put into the longer race on Cham­pi­ons Day,the track con­fig­u­ra­tion likely to be more suit­able to her gears than his grind­ing style.

HAP­PILY (A O’BRIEN) Pos­si­ble tar­gets: Prix Mar­cel Bous­sac (Chan­tilly, Oc­to­ber 1st), Fil­lies’ Mile (New­mar­ket, Oc­to­ber 13th)

Hap­pily is al­ready a Group 1 win­ner in the Moyglare over Ir­ish Cham­pi­ons Week­end but there is a strong sus­pi­cion she will prove even bet­ter on a sound sur­face; she toughed things out against Mag­i­cal at the Cur­ragh but by far her most visu­ally impressive win came on the fastest go­ing she en­coun­tered in the Sil­ver Flash at Leop­ard­stown. Cer­tainly she is bred for bet­ter ground – her brother Gle­nea­gles was in­fa­mously with­drawn from races where the go­ing was deemed too soft – and that she has been able to do so well on softer re­flects pos­i­tively on her la­tent abil­ity.

HIGH­LAND REEL (A O’BRIEN) Pos­si­ble tar­gets: Arc (Chan­tilly, Oc­to­ber 1st), Breed­ers’ Cup Turf (Del Mar, Novem­ber 4th)

One of the stars of the early part of the sea­son when win­ning the Corona­tion Cup and Prince of Wales’s Stakes, High­land Reel is at risk of be­com­ing a for­got­ten horse in light of a dis­ap­point­ing ef­fort in

the King Ge­orge and his ab­sence since.

Both of those are purely ground re­lated though as he looked all at sea in the As­cot fea­ture and pos­si­ble runs in the Jud­dmonte In­ter­na­tional and Ir­ish Cham­pion Stakes were shelved when the weather turned against him.The form of his win at Royal As­cot looks bet­ter now with Group 1 win­ners Dec­o­rated Knight and Ulysses in the frame be­hind him and he will go to Paris and/or Del Mar a fresher horse than most. Ground re­mains vi­tal to him – his fig­ures with firm in the de­scrip­tion read:11511211 – and he can add a sev­enth Group 1 win when un­der­foot con­di­tions are suit­able.

MARY TU­DOR (W MCCREERY) Pos­si­ble tar­get: Silken Gilder Stakes (Na­van, Oc­to­ber 8th)

The afore­men­tioned Hap­pily and Mag­i­cal have al­ready shown the form of the Debu­tante Stakes in a good light,that pair fight­ing out the fin­ish of the Moyglare next time, but the filly that shaped best on the day was the third-placed Mary Tu­dor. Racing keenly in rear,she looked un­suited by the slow pace and did well to fin­ish within two and a half lengths at the end. It was dis­ap­point­ing that Wil­lie McCreery swerved the Moyglare with her,es­pe­cially as the ground was on the soft side, but she re­mains a maiden and per­haps a more pa­tient ap­proach will pay off in the long-term. Still, a pat­tern suc­cess be­fore year’s end is hardly out of the ques­tion with some­thing like the Silken Gilder (moved to Na­van with the Cur­ragh closed for the sea­son) a suit­able race.

PER­SUA­SIVE (J GOS­DEN) Pos­si­ble tar­get: Sun Char­iot Stakes (New­mar­ket, Oc­to­ber 7th)

In­clud­ing a UK-trained filly is bla­tant rule- bend­ing but Per­sua­sive was par­tic­u­larly eye-catch­ing on her re­cent Leop­ard­stown run when set too much to do be­hind Hy­drangea. In truth, she’s prob­a­bly been un­lucky not to make the break­through at the top-level yet, her ef­forts in the last two run­nings of the Ma­tron Stakes sug­gest­ing she is up to the grade and she of course missed a siz­able chunk of the sea­son when only mak­ing her re­turn in late-July. Lightly-raced enough to still be on the im­prove, the Sun Char­iot looks an ideal race and she will go there as one of the fresh­est run­ners in the field; in­deed, she might even im­prove again for last time.

SAXON WAR­RIOR (A O’BRIEN) Pos­si­ble tar­gets: Royal Lodge (New­mar­ket, Septem­ber 30th), Racing Post Tro­phy (Don­caster, Oc­to­ber 28th)

Ante-post mar­kets sug­gest The Pen­tagon

Win­ter

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