Compared to the Classic action at Newmarket today's Irish racing is pretty low-key but Tony Keenan has found a trio of Dundalk runners that might be worth backing...
"Those three backend runs did cause his mark to drop however and Queluz was much better on return at the Dundalk, running fourth in a decent time with the sectionals suggesting he may have been the best horse in the race."
Saxon Warrior was a ninth 2,000 Guineas winner for Aidan O'Brien yesterday and there is every chance one of Happily, I Can Fly, Sarrochi and Sizzling could give him a fifth success in the fillies' equivalent this afternoon. The reality is that while Saxon Warrior could be a top-class horse - he is already on his way - this weekend was all about the Kentucky Derby for the Coolmore-Ballydoyle axis. Their dominance in the UK and Ireland is total and they have so many horses that they now have to look for races where they would not typically have had runners in the past.
O'Brien himself was at Churchill Downs as was Ryan Moore for the ride on Mendelssohn and things went wrong from early on, both on the day and in the race, the rain turning the track to slop and the horse getting poleaxed just after leaving the stalls. This venture may have failed but it will hardly deter them and there seems no real upside to giving Mendelssohn a European campaign now; surely an attempt at the Preakness and/or the Belmont will be next where a more suitable surface and/or a smaller field could see a different outcome.
Speaking of artificial surfaces, we are back on the all-weather this afternoon as Dundalk gets a rare Sunday card. There are a few interesting races though no O'Brien runners!
It is probably a positive that Lady Nathaniel has been kept in training as a four-year-old but she has been disappointing on the track thus far and this race may go to one of the more proven handicappers in the field. Masalai and Annie Fior both fit that bill but Queluz looks the overpriced horse especially relative to Annie Fior.
He was progressive in the early part of last summer, notably beating Nivvo by six-and-a-half lengths at Gowran in June, form that suggests he could be well-treated off 66 here, but he wasn't in the same form when returning from a mid-season break. Those three backend runs did cause his mark to drop, however, and he was much better on return at the Dundalk, running fourth in a decent time with the sectionals suggesting he may have been the best horse in the race. He should improve for that run which was his first in 173 days while the step up in trip is a plus too.
The Plan Man ran well here last time and should pick up one of these someday but his overall career has been a story of frustration with only two wins from 37 starts and there may not be much improvement for the run despite it coming off a break as he was strong in the betting. A better bet might be Creeping Ivy from the same yard.
Accusations of being frustrating could also be levelled at him but his figures in four runs over this course-and-distance read:3113 and the last of those in December is better than it looks as he gave up a significant positional advantage to a well-ridden front-runner. Oisin Orr rides and it could be meaningful that he was on The Plan Man last time while Creeping Ivy can go well fresh too.
Nivvo is an interesting runner in the last race having finished down the field but not beaten far in a race at the All-Weather Championships at Lingfield last time and has only been put up two pounds despite seeming to run well above herself; still, this trip is a worry as the improvement seemed to come when dropped back to seven and eight furlongs earlier this year.
A more solid option is Claregate Street. Her Naas win last June suggests a mark of 67 is reasonable and while she didn't build on that at the time her season was truncated afterwards. She did at least prove she handles this surface with a fifth place finish here in October and there was a bit to like about her return at Leopardstown, sitting close to an overly strong pace, not getting a hard time in the finish and likely to come on for the run. Furthermore, some of these Halford horses improve with time and that may be the case with her as she is lightly raced too.
2018 P+L: -31.0 points