Roughly one third of the Irish flat season has been completed which is about enough of a sample that we can begin to spot some broader patters in the campaign. As has become standard, Aidan O'Brien is away and clear, his dominance reflected in a number of short-priced runners at Royal Ascot this week, but what is going on in behind is different to previous years.
Dermot Weld had been a clear runner-up in the championship in each of the past three seasons but finds himself only sixth overall and while his number of individual runners stands at 71, behind only O'Brien and Jim Bolger, quite a few of those have been one-and-done sorts not making it to a second start. Weld is nearly €340,000 behind Bolger in total prizemoney, a figure that is hard to draw back when you haven't got a Group 1 horse, which Weld probably doesn't unless we include Zhukova who may need to travel for suitable races in any case.
This is interesting in-and-of itself but more so because the Sportsbook have a market on it and Weld looks too short at 11/8. Bolger is the other 11/8 favourite and probably should be odds-on with his horses running frequently and well while Ger Lyons isn't out of it. He lacks the numerical firepower of Weld or Bolger but he seems to have improved as a trainer again in 2017, his placing a particularly strong part of his repertoire.
Considering the race is worth less than €10,000 to the winner, this is a hot little handicap with the Lynam pair Magic Bear and Miss Power in particular looking ahead of their marks. Accalia also has claims to being well-treated though; her second to Primo Uomo (19lbs higher now) as a three-year-old last backend looks excellent form and was achieved in a fast time. Her return at the Curragh was more than adequate, beaten little over a length in a big field of race fit rivals, and this race could set up well for her. Drawn highest of all, she should be able to grab the rail early with Pat Smullen up and make a bold bid from there; her overall win/record suggests it might be worth putting in a cheap lay in-running.
Glamorous Approach seems to have gotten back to the level of her juvenile form in past few weeks but there's a suspicion things have been going her way, meeting rivals who weren't at their best and/or getting the run of the race. At these prices, it is worth siding with the potential of Bengala who built on an impressive debut when she had a notable finishing sectional to come third in the Salsabil Stakes last time.
That doesn't tell the whole story however as she could well have won that Navan listed race with a clear passage, meeting trouble early in the straight and finishing with running to give. Her effort in the final furlong of a strongly-run race suggests she will improve for the extra distance and herself and Glamorous Approach should be closer in the betting.
It is hard to pick a hole in the claims of Sea The Lion in the Cork Derby - bar the obvious that other horses may be better-treated - and he looks well-overpriced around [11.0]. Though up eight pounds for last time, he looks on a fair mark of 79 as the form is strong; the time was excellent and he beat a pair that looked ahead of their marks going into the race who were backed as if that were the case.
Certainly Savannah Storm would have been a short price for this and Sea The Lion beat him on merit last time; he may have had a fitness edge but it was only his second run after two and a half years off the track so there should still be more to come. Though a six-year-old, Sea The Lion remains unexposed after just six starts and his trainer has done an excellent job nursing him back to form. Perhaps it is the name of Jarlath Fahey that has him so big in the betting but he looks the standout bet.
0.5 Point Back Accalia @ [8.4] or bigger in the Cork 14:20
0.5 Point Place Back Accalia @ [2.5] or bigger in the Cork 14:20
1 Point Back Bengala @ [5.6] or bigger in the Cork 15:20
1 Point Place Back Bengala @ [1.85] or bigger in the Cork 15:20
1.5 Point Back Sea The Lion @ [11.5] or bigger in the Cork 15:50
1.5 Point Place Back Sea The Lion @ [3.2] or bigger in the Cork 15:50
2017 P+L: -6.45 points