PAT KEANE: Master a bet to nothing

IT’S virtually certain Sea The Stars will take his chance in the Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown today.

Trainer John Oxx walked the track last night and declared Sea The Stars as “likely to run” unless unexpected rain changes the ground.

Oxx has long been adamant the son of Cape Cross needs a sound surface to produce his best, notwithstanding the fact that, as a juvenile, Sea The Stars won a Group 2 with cut in the ground and his maiden on a heavy surface. Nevertheless, we have to accept the evidence of the colt’s three-year-old career is that he is most effective on fast ground.

Sea The Stars is unbeaten in four races this season, all of them Group 1’s, starting with the English 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, the Epsom Derby, the Eclipse at Sandown and the Juddmonte International at York last time.

Tipping him is the easiest thing in the world, but where’s the value in siding with a horse who has been far from a certain runner all week, is going to be a tight price and, if he does line up, will be competing in conditions which are set to be less than ideal.

Johnny Murtagh had a choice between Fame And Glory and Mastercraftsman and has gone with the former. Fame And Glory has not been seen since totally dominating the Irish Derby at the Curragh back in June, scooting home five lengths clear of Golden Sword.

But that’s a race which hasn’t worked out at all and whether ten furlongs, in this class, round a bend will play to his strengths remains to be seen.

In any case, if there is an edge in the contest then surely Mastercraftsman each-way, available at 6-1 yesterday, is a wager to nothing.

He looked like beating Sea The Stars in the Juddmonte, but was eventually no match for his rival, going under by a length. There are no doubts about him on the ground, however, and he can at least make Sea The Stars dig deep through the final furlong.

Aidan O’Briens trains Mastercraftsman and could be in for a lucrative day. His rapidly improving Poet gets the nap in the Kilternan Stakes. He won a Listed event at Killarney and progressed more when defying top weight to take the Cambridgeshire at the Curragh last Sunday.

O’Brien’s once-raced You’ll Be Mine can land the Irish Independent Fillies Maiden. She certainly caught the eye when fourth on her debut behind Miss Laa Di Da at Leopardstown and is fancied to reverse placings with second-placed Hedaaya.

Dynasty is another major O’Brien fancy in the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Maiden, having been slowly away and then run green when beaten by Tommy Stack’s gambled-on Gibraltar Blue at Fairyhouse.

This, though, could be an informative heat, with positive vibes regarding Stack’s High Chaparral first-timer, Noll Wallop, and Jim Bolger’s newcomer, Chabal, a son of Galileo.

The Group 1 Coolmore Fusaichi Pegasus Matron Stakes may be best left to Rainbow View, who hasn’t fulfilled the promise of her two-year-old days, but a mile on soft ground may be just what’s required.


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