Longer trip should enable Portage to build on promising debut

The nap vote at the Curragh tomorrow goes to Michael Halford’s once-raced Portage in the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Maiden.

Feature event, of course, is the €200,000 Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes, but this is fiercely competitive and it may pay to look in a different direction in an effort to show a profit.

Portage is a far more inviting possibility to build on the promise of his debut run here last month. It would be no great exaggeration to say the son of Teofilo had no idea what he was doing, at least for the majority of the seven furlongs.

He raced out the back for most of the race, before the penny began to drop and Portage fairly flew in the closing stages. In the end he was beaten a neck into second by Aidan O’Brien’s East India and can only benefit from the experience and stepping up an extra furlong in trip.

The Phoenix Stakes is a cracking contest, with Eddie Lynam’s Royal Ascot winner, Anthem Alexander, heading the ante-post market.

She won the five furlongs Queen Mary then, racing too keenly for her own good and yet having sufficient in the tank to beat the high-class Tiggy Wiggy. The problem, however, is whether she will stay six furlongs on this stiff track, especially should the rain arrive.

Richard Hannon’s Kool Kompany, a smart juvenile, is already a winner twice this season in Ireland, at Naas and the Curragh.

His latest success saw him land the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-laffitte, but they finished in a heap in that contest and it remains to be seen just how good he really is. Beach Belle has a big reputation, but there are holes in her form, while Aidan O’Brien runs no less than four in the race.

Joseph O’Brien goes with The Great War and that’s a real surprise, because he is hard to fancy. The final nod falls on another O’Brien inmate, Dick Whittington.

Colm O’Donoghue is in the plate and this son of Rip Van Winkle impressed with his attitude when beating Toscanini in a Group 3 at the Curragh last time.

Kevin Prendergast’s Tamadhor, touched off late by Legatissimo at Galway, gets the nod in the Loder EBF Fillies Race.

At Kilbeggan tonight, Dessie Hughes’ Seefood should win the Kieran Kelly Memorial Beginners Chase.

He was all set to get off the mark over fences here 22 days ago when falling at the last and, hopefully, compensation awaits.

Willie Mullins’ Ask Vic gets the vote in the Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey Mares’ Novice Hurdle. Winner of a bumper and a maiden hurdle, she was a trifle disappointing at Bellewstown on her latest appearance.

Ask Vic was well fancied, but could only manage a poor fifth behind Aranhill Chief.

The five-year-old has since been afforded a nice break and is clearly better than that!

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