It's Day Two of Irish Champions Weekend at the Curragh and Tony Keenan has found a number of horses of interest across the eight-raced card...
"I'm So Fancy has proved well-suited by the round course here this season with her win in the Snow Fairy another step forward and her relative pace at this trip (she won over a mile back in June) could give her the edge."
With six weeks or so left in the flat season, now is the time when people start to get into review mode to consider how things have gone. For Aidan O'Brien and Ballydoyle it has not been a good season, relatively speaking, though that is understandable; it is hard to win good races when your horses are sick.
Up to this point, he has won just one of the Irish Group 1s in 2018 and the last time that happened in a full season was 2013 and before than 2004.
His tally could improve this afternoon as O'Brien has the favourite - or close to it - in each of the Moyglare, National Stakes and Irish St. Leger. None could be described as bombproof however; Just Wonderful faces a deep field, Anthony Van Dyck looks in need of further and Flag Of Honour is against an Irish Derby winner.
Eziyra sets the standard on ratings in the Blandford but perhaps not by as much as the market suggests and the decision to supplement for this rather than run in the Enterprise Stakes yesterday is a surprising one.
She has looked best in well-run 12-furlong races so this shorter trip is a concern, especially as Dermot Weld has no means to set a decent pace unless Eziyra makes the running which seems unlikely as she has been held-up in recent starts.
Colm O'Donoghue has picked Beautiful Morning of the Harrington pair but the Royal Whip form is questionable with the first five covered by less than two lengths and her stablemate I'm So Fancy seems the overpriced one. She has proved well-suited by the round course here this season with her win in the Snow Fairy another step forward and her relative pace at this trip (she won over a mile back in June) could give her the edge.
The Moyglare is particularly open with four fillies clustered between [4.5] and [6.5] but it is hard to get away from the claims of Skitter Scatter for all that some of the field have more upside. She won the key trial over course-and-distance last month, proving her effectiveness on slower ground in the process, and there seems no obvious reason why the likes of Zagitova or Lady Kaya should reverse form now.
Perhaps it is her relatively low-profile trainer that is causing her to be available at the price she is but the filly has spent the season upsetting the bigger yards and might do so again now.
Flashcard is the potential horse in the sales race but that potential is in his price and more now and a better value alternative looks Barbill.
He's been hitting a class ceiling since winning his maiden back in May but has generally run well in listed and lesser group races since and now gets to runs against the weakest field he's met in a while and he gets weight from some of them. His time-figures are the clear pick of the field, he handles some ease in the ground and a reasonably high draw in 15 could prove favourable.
The Northfields is as challenging a 'getting out' stakes as you will find but a couple at double-figure prices appeal to small stakes. Downdraft looked a good prospect earlier in the season, his Navan handicap win from The King in June achieved in a decent time, and he followed that run up with a sixth in the King George V at Royal Ascot.
Things didn't really work out for him there as he got trapped wide and didn't fully see out the 12 furlongs but the form could not be stronger; the second is 10lbs higher, the third is 13lbs higher, the fourth (Cross Counter) is 16lbs higher, the seventh (Making Miracles) is eight pounds higher.
Downdraft gets to run off two pounds lower than that mark now over a trip that seems his optimum and there was a bit to like in his last run over a mile which is too sharp.
It won't go down in the record books but the handling of Aussie Valentine this season has been one of the best bits of training of the year; here is a horse that hitherto seemed to have only one or two good runs in him early on but he has held his form across 11 runs in 2018, winning twice and always giving his running.
His last run when fourth in the Galway Mile was an excellent one as he was the only one of those who set an overly-strong gallop to get involved in the finish. Ten furlongs with some cut in the ground is close to his optimum these days and he looks overpriced.
Tony Keenan 2018 P/L
1.5 Points Back I’m So Fancy @ [8.6] or bigger in the Curragh 14:35
1.5 Points Place Back I’m So Fancy @ [2.4] or bigger in the Curragh 14:35
0.5 Point Back Skitter Scatter @ [5.5] or bigger in the Curragh 15:40
0.5 Point Place Back Skitter Scatter @ [2.0] or bigger in the Curragh 15:40
1 Point Back Barbill @ [6.6] or bigger in the Curragh 17:25
0.5 Point Back Downdraft @ [15.0] or bigger in the Curragh 18:00
0.5 Point Back Aussie Valentine @ [26.0] or bigger in the Curragh 18:00