PAT KEANE: Market will be best indicator of Yeats’ Leger prospects

THE Curragh can look forward to a cracking afternoon on Saturday, with Yeats a major draw in the Irish Field St Leger, while the National Stakes has attracted a smashing entry.

What does one make of Yeats, now an eight-year-old, at this stage of the game? He has only run twice this season and hasn’t been seen since winning the Gold Cup at Ascot back in the middle of June.

Aidan O’Brien has done many remarkable things in his career, but getting Yeats back to his best for that race has to rank among his finest achievements.

Yeats had warmed up for Ascot with a shocking effort at Navan, finishing a remote sixth of eight behind Alandi.

I couldn’t face him at Ascot, after that effort, and then watched mildly bemused as he powered to an easy three and a half lengths victory.

That was all of three months ago and there has hardly been a word about the horse since then-until now.

So what sort of form is he in and are there any signs that having to work relatively hard for a living bores him and he’d prefer to be doing something else?

The market will surely tell us plenty and much will depend on whether those major players, with the well-marked cards, want to be with or against him.

Dermot Weld’s Profound Beauty could be a fascinating challenger. Weld, however, indicated this week she is not a certain runner, so we have to await developments.

Profound Beauty is currently rated 9lbs inferior to Yeats and would be in receipt of 3lbs at the Curragh.

In theory, at least, that is not a huge amount to find for a five-year-old filly as progressive as her.

She has got better and better through this campaign and simply toyed with the Irish Derby third, Mourayan, in a Group 3 at Leopardstown last time.

It would be some double to turn-over Yeats, on the way to giving Weld a third success in the Melbourne Cup.

There are 18 in the National Stakes and Aidan O’Brien is responsible for 12 of them. The winner of this contest will surely head for winter quarters as the highest rated juvenile in the country!

Looking at the O’Brien dozen, we can safely say that most of them simply aren’t good enough to win.

The word is that Alfred Nobel (Seamus Heffernan) may emerge as his principal challenger.

I’m a fan of Cape Blanco, but speculating about the O’Brien team is a waste of time, until we know exactly what he is running and the exact riding arrangements.

Kevin Prendergast’s Kingsfort is the other to very much note. Prendergast has exercised huge patience with the son of War Chant, who hasn’t been seen since cruising to victory at the Curragh on the Friday night of Derby weekend.


IN my innocence, I thought Mastercraftsman had a chance against Sea The Stars in the Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday.

You silly boy! Yes, backing Mastercraftsman each-way reaped a modest dividend, but, as they rounded the final bend, you could only marvel at the power of Sea The Stars and one’s own capacity for stupidity.

Fame And Glory and Mastercraftsman are proper horses, but to watch Sea The Stars basically doing half-speed against them, and then sprinting clear, was almost astonishing.

Mick Kinane says he’s the best he’s ever ridden and there is more than the possibility he may be the best anyone has ever ridden.


GLOBAL warming, or whatever the reason, has ensured that tracks in Ireland, which only race in the summer, are no longer even guaranteed to be able to do that.

When we dived out of the scratcher on Tuesday morning, it would have been almost disappointing if the rain wasn’t tumbling down.

But there was none of this will the meeting be on or won’t it, no need when dear old Dundalk was the centre of excellence.

At some stage, in the next decade, the economy will pick up, and it is high time plans were put in place for a Thurles-like National Hunt track, capable of racing through the winter, and another all-weather course wouldn’t be the silliest notion either.


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