Thursday, August 8, 2013

Leopardstown Preview - 8th August

Leopardstown Preview -  8th August

By Stephen Dwyer

Leopardstown host a seven race card tonight with the feature event being the Group 3 Ballyroan Stakes. Commencing proceedings is the Foxrock Fillies Maiden over 6f where Willie Mullins enters a rare sprint runner in Wizz Up. The filly finished well down the field on her only start for Robert Collet in Maisons-laffitte before being acquired by Ballylinch Stud. Out of Lidanna, the 6f trip will suit and Seamie Heffernan takes the ride. She is an interesting contender in what looks a very ordinary maiden. Likely favourite Il Palazzo tries the 6f trip for the first time but continues to disappoint. Winless in five starts she finished one-paced over 7f at the Curragh last time out when beaten into 4th. She started 6/4 favourite that day and looks opposable here. She may try to make all (employed similar tactics at Leopardstown before) but she lacks true sprinting speed in her pedigree and this may be exposed by one of the newcomers.

In the 7f Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden, Johhny Murtagh trains and rides Corona Borealis who looks progressive. His dam is a half-sister to the high-class Inchinor and he fetched 110,000 Guineas as a yearling. By Galileo he finished mid division over a similar trip at the Curragh in June and improvement is expected. The Ballydoyle-trained Friendship, second last week (7 ½ lengths back to the third horse) to Mustajeeb at Galway, has been highly tried and his last race at Galway was a very high class affair. He may well win today and there is every indication that he is progressing. Strictly on form lines he should be winning today, he finishes his races well and should appreciate the ground. On just his second start he ran in the Chesham Stakes at Ascot (but got very upset at the starting stalls) and is officially rated 95 which should be enough to take this race.

Not content with just being the King of Ballybrit, Dermot Weld has made the Ballyroan Stakes all his own. He has saddled the winner of the last four renewals of this race but has no runner today. In all truth, this year’s renewal looks very competitive on paper. Both Scintilla and Ernest Hemingway are officially rated 115 but Scintillula receives a stone in weight from the Ballydoyle runner due to being a 3yo filly. Unraced as a 2yo, Ernest Hemingway famously served as a pacemaker for Camelot in the 2012 Prix de l´Arc de Triomph and he beat Royal Diamond (last year’s Irish St. Leger winner) in the Group 3 Curragh Cup in June over 1m 6f. It was a comfortable victory that day despite his odds (12/1) but today will be a real test as to whether he can be considered a real stayer in the Yeats and Fame And Glory mould. On the negative side, Aidan O’ Brien has only won this race once, back in 1999 with Peach Out of Reach, and no horse carrying 9-12 has won the race in the last ten years.

Scintillula for Jim Bolger is a full sister to Claiomh Solais and Cuis Ghaire who is a muliptle Group 3 winner and finished second in the 1000 Guineas. She has won at Leopardstown twice this season  and comfortably accounted for Mars in the Group 3 Meld Stakes two weeks ago. She also finished fourth in the Irish Oaks and with the weight she receives today, Kevin Manning may well try to steal it from the front. It is Royal Diamond however who is of most interest. Owned by Andrew Tinkler, he is a half-brother to Mad About You and as a 7yo, has plenty of experience whish fits the profile for older horses having a high strike rate in this race. He improved no end last year which culminated in a narrow victory in the Irish St. Leger. Hard to believe that this horse was running over hurdles at Fakenham on New Years Day last year and there is now talk of the Melbourne Cup following his Listed win at the Curragh in July. Royal Diamond is a tough, genuine horse who keeps everything straightforward and it is well know that Johnny Murtagh is very fond of him and has this race as a target.

In the concluding race, the 2m Leopardstown Club Member’s Handicap, Giant’s Quest looks an each way proposition following some very decent spins over hurdles. His last three races over jumps read 213 and at the weights, Pat Smullen is sure to give a good account.

Two for today:
Friendship – 5.45 2 pts win (Tissue price 5/4)
Royal Diamond 6.45 2 pts win (Tissue price 2/1)

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