Leopardstown hosts their classics trials card this Sunday and with decent national hunt racing at Killarney too there is something for everyone. Tony Keenan has previewed the card and found three horses to note...
"Preference is for Who’s Steph who should be ideally suited by this step up in trip judging on her maiden win and how she finished out her race over seven furlongs last time."
When was the last time we had good going or faster for an Irish flat meeting? It seems scarcely credible but it was the first day of last season's Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown (September 9) and even then it was only on the outer track! After a long winter the decent ground is back at the same track and perhaps it may even head towards good-firm before the end of the card with only drying weather forecast but let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Willie Mullins has not stood still after Punchestown and seems keen to build up an early lead in the current trainers' championship; he has had 11 winners in the past fortnight while Gordon Elliott has been quiet. That hot start could continue at Killarney where True Self looks a worthy favourite for the featured handicap hurdle.
A good bumper mare last summer, she seemed to get bogged down in the winter ground but an 80-day break earlier this year has brought about improvement and an eight-pound rise for her win at Punchestown may not be enough to stop her. She won with something in hand that day, trapped wide for much of race but still settling things quickly with a good turn-of-foot, and this speed-favouring track should suit in a race where some of her main rivals seem to prefer further and/or softer ground.
Magical was a very good filly at two, winning a Group 2 and three times in the frame in Group 1s, but she isn't being campaigned like she is in the same form now. Having started back in a Pouliches trial last month, she swerves that race this afternoon to come for another trial where she has to carry a 3lb penalty and decent ground may not be her thing either; she was below form in the Fillies' Mille on good last October.
The ground is an unknown for her two main rivals, Mary Tudor and Who's Steph, the former in particular looking like she has a high knee action. Preference is for Who's Steph who should be ideally suited by this step up in trip judging on her maiden win and how she finished out her race over seven furlongs last time. That form isn't working out too well but it came in a decent time-figure and she is unexposed enough to improve again.
Noel Meade has to be admired for his perseverance with Curley Bill, bringing the 10-year-old back from absences of 928 and 692 days to win at Naas last month and he remains well-handicapped on his old form; he won a premier handicap at Galway in 2013 off 85 and runs off 77 now. Still, that form is so old now to be obsolete and he looks too short stepping up in class.
Mawaany and Apparition, second and fourth in a decent handicap over Irish Champions Weekend last September, are respected, especially as they did well to finish so close coming from midfield in a slowly-run race but Clongowes might be the best bet. He also ran in a strong handicap over Champions Weekend, forcing a decent pace and doing well to be involved in the finish having expended energy early, and is now two pounds lower. He was below form on his seasonal return in the Vintage Crop but that was on ground he didn't like and the run should have brought him on for this where the going is more suitable.
2018 P+L: -14.1 points
1 Point Back True Self @ [6.6] or bigger in the Killarney 14:55
1 Point Place Back True Self @ [2.3] or bigger in the Killarney 14:55
1 Point Back Who’s Steph @ [6.0] or bigger in the Leopardstown 15:10
1 Point Place Back Who’s Steph @ [2.0] or bigger in the Leopardstown 15:10
0.5 Point Back Clongowes @ [8.2] or bigger in the Leopardstown 16:45