PAT KEANE: Eziyra a real eye-catcher but Galway will be stiffer task

At Tipperary last Saturday, Dermot Weld’s newcomer, Eziyra, caught the eye of just about everyone watching.

The daughter of Teofilo was very easy to back, with the bulk of the money on this two-year-old maiden landing on the form horses, eventual winner, John Oxx’s Sea Of Grace and Aidan O’Brien’s third placed, Leo Minor.

In between them, however, was Eziyra, beaten a length into second and noted doing all of her best work at the end of the seven and a half furlongs.

It was probably reasonable to assume not a huge amount was expected from Eziyra on the day, considering Weld had released his long-time ally, Pat Smullen, to go and ride at Ascot, with Leigh Roche in the plate instead.

Anyway, the stewards soon swung into action, enquiring into what they had just witnessed. You rarely, however, ever see any action taken when it comes to enquiries that concern first time, and understandably green, juveniles and it was entirely predictable that the conclusion arrived at was to note the explanations that were on offer.

Roche told the stewards his instructions were to try to settle and teach the filly and get her to finish the race out well.

This shaped as a smart contest beforehand, with Sea Of Grace, in particular, and Leo Minor stripping on the back of useful enough debuts.

That Eziyra was able to mix it with them, afforded what could be best described as a nice introduction, was a real positive.

Inevitably, of course, given her connections, the seven-furlongs maiden on the Tuesday night of the Galway Festival has to be regarded as her immediate target.

Her chance is rather obvious now, but the notion that Eziyra is an absolute banker should be treated with a certain amount of caution.

This fillies race can be rather hot and was last won by Weld three years ago with Tarfasha. But he has supplied beaten favourites in the contest for the last two years.

Twelve months ago, he saddled the 13-8 shot Simannka and time has revealed her to be a more than useful sort. But she was hammered out the gate by Michael O’Callaghan’s Now Or Never.

Then in 2014, Weld’s Chinese Light was an even-money shot, but was beaten into third behind David Wachman’s Legatissimo.

Imagine running into a horse as good as Legatissimo in an apparently innocuous maiden in the west of Ireland!

Legatissimo went on to land the English 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, was beaten a short head when second to Qualify in the Epsom Oaks, and ended her career by taking two Group 1’s, the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood and the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown, concluding with a creditable runner-up placing in the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland.

Add in the fact the Galway maiden has been won in the past by Aidan O’Brien and you really just wouldn’t know what you might run into.

That said, however, Eziyra stamped herself as definitely one for the future at Tipperary and we will take some persuading she won’t deliver at the end of the month.

In the early part of the year, we were hearing very good reports about some of the work Air Force Blue was said to be doing and there were those who had some decent wagers on him winning the English 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

A brilliant two-year-old, the son of War Front completely blew out in the Classic and subsequently failed to sparkle in the Irish equivalent.

Even accepting that ground on the soft side on both occasions was far from ideal, Air Force Blue displayed little enthusiasm for the job.

Aidan O’Brien gave him a little break and then Air Force Blue reappeared at Newmarket a week ago over, arguably, his best trip, six furlongs, and on a quick surface.

To my eyes, however, it was a case of more of the same.

Admittedly, he had little luck in running, but trailing home 12th behind the impressive Limato didn’t hold out much hope for the future.

The bottom line is that if O’Brien can ever get Air Force Blue back to Group 1 level, it will be some performance.

A career at stud surely beckons sooner rather than later.

At Tipperary last Saturday, Denis O’Regan was suspended for two days after failing to weigh in when sixth aboard The Tullow Tank in the hurdle race won by Ivan Grozny.

In the Racing Post on Sunday, Justin O’Hanlon reported that Ruby Walsh was “quite animated’’ about the fate of O’Regan, quoting him as saying: “In Ireland you can quite easily forget to weigh in. Here you can quite easily walk straight to the jockeys’ room without even seeing the scales, they are hidden away in a corner. In Britain you have somebody with you to make sure you weigh in and the area is roped off.’’

Now I know from Ruby in the past that this is a drum he is blue in the face from banging. It seems obvious he knows exactly what he is talking about and isn’t it time that the Turf Club finally listened to him?

It isn’t of any real consequence when the jockey of a horse that has just finished sixth fails to weigh in.

But wait until the jockey of a winner, again, sails past the scales.

And when it does Walsh will, rightly, be more than animated and some of us will have no trouble producing a column on the issue.


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