Racing returns to the Curragh this afternoon for their penultimate meeting of the year and Kevin hopes he has found two value bets that will represent him well.
"With the promising 10lb claimer Killian Leonard taking the ride, the hope is that Lindenhurst will bounce back to form and run a big race at a huge price."
The Listed Staffordstown Stud Stakes (14:55) has attracted a promising field of fillies and the Aidan O'Brien-trained Best In The World will be the centre of attention. O'Brien has won this race with two subsequent Group 1 winners in recent years in Homecoming Queen and Together Forever and this filly is the subject of much expectation due to pedigree (full-sister to Found) and for some, her eye-catching name.
Best In The World made a more than satisfactory debut in a mile maiden at Gowran Park in September, finishing a ½-length second to Rayisa. While she seems sure to improve, she does seem under-priced to me and I'm happy to look beyond her in pursuit of better value.
The one that makes the most appeal to me is the Dermot Weld-trained Zalfana. The daughter of Dutch Art wasn't especially strong in the market for her debut over this course and distance in August, but that didn't stop her making a very promising winning start. Zalfana came under pressure quite a long way out, but really started to roll inside the final furlong and showed a likeable way of going on her way to recording a ¾-length victory.
While the runner-up disappointed on her next start, the subsequent Group 3 winner Coolmore was back in third and the subsequent maiden winner Rayisa was back in fifth, so the form looks solid.
This race has been her stated aim since that maiden win and with the ground being in her favour, she could well improve enough from that experience to follow up in this.
The main event of the day is the Tote Irish Cesarewitch (16:05) and it's worth having a swing at the race with one at a massive price. The one that I like is the John McConnell-trained Lindenhurst.
The five-year-old is a useful hurdler, having once beaten the future Grade 1 winner Guitar Pete in a juvenile hurdle and more recently going very close off a mark of 132 in a handicap hurdle at Ballinrobe last year. However, what is more relevant in the context of this race is his form on the Flat. He is quite unexposed over staying trips and he was particularly impressive when winning a mile-and-three-quarters handicap at Bellewstown in July 2014, readily seeing off the progressive Snowmane.
Now, there is no getting away from the fact that he has been disappointing in his two starts this year. However, he was very well backed for his return to action at Bellewstown, but was reported to have hung badly by Gary Carroll after he finished last of six. The fact that he wasn't seen again for 10 weeks suggests that there may have been an issue that needed ironing out after that and his only run since is readily forgivable, as it came on horrendously testing ground at Listowel that was never going to suit him.
His win at Bellewstown suggested that a step up to two miles will suit, as will today's prevailing ground and the reapplied cheekpieces should help him too. The run at Listowel will have blown away any cobwebs and with the promising 10lb claimer Killian Leonard taking the ride, the hope is that he will bounce back to form and run a big race at a huge price.
Back Zalfana 2pts to win @ 5.04/1 or better in the 14:55 at the Curragh
Back Lindenhurst 1pt win @ 95.094/1 and place @ BSP in the 16:05 at the Curragh