Bible Belt in peak condition for Yorkshire Oaks tilt

There are only two Commonstown residents in action over the weekend and no prizes for guessing why.

The hurricane warnings about Wednesday might have been wide of the mark but enough rain fell to mess up a lot of my plans once more. Although truth to tell, the plans have been pretty much messed up anyway.

We will not be going to Tramore and so it is down to Sister Rocks and Back Burner to fly the flag over the weekend.

Sister Rocks is an American-bred filly. We’ve been waiting for the ground all year for her. I actually didn’t think I’d get her into that maiden as she was 13 on the ballot list. The gods were looking the right way though. She has been ready to run for a while so I’m hopeful she takes to it well and might get in the frame.

Back Burner is in great form.

He ran well on the polytrack last autumn, when he was second in a premier handicap. It’s a fair ask for him to go and win off top weight. He would need to step up from his Leopardstown win to take this. It’s a hot little contest but we’ve nowhere else to go and he’s a relatively fresh horse as this is only his third run of the year.

Gimli’s Rock is one I’m looking forward to at Tramore on Monday if he runs. He beat Won In The Dark in a three mile hurdle at Cork at the beginning of the month and I think the switch back to fences will suit him, as will the 2m 6f distance. He seems to enjoy it more when he doesn’t have to be scrubbed along.

Really, much of the focus is on York next week. If all goes well, we could be travelling over with as many horses as we’d have going to Cheltenham. At present, the ground is good to firm and while they have had a bit or rain and there is some more forecast, it should be good, quick ground.

I’m almost afraid to say it, the way things have gone, but if it stays like that, you would be hopeful with all my intended runners. We have options everywhere but won’t make definite decisions until we see what the ground is like.

The Yorkshire Oaks has been the target for Bible Belt for some time and she is in great order. We were really delighted with her third in the Ballyroan Stakes when she got chopped off a bit at a vital time. It has been hard trying to get races for her with the ground, but the Ballyroan run should have put her in peak condition for this.

Dame Street is entered for the Listed fillies’ race, while Steps To Freedom and Bob Le Beau – who picked up some nice prize money when fourth of four in the Royal Whip last Sunday – will head for the Ebor. I’ve entered Royal Blue Star in a seven-furlong race there too.

Ballybacka Lady is entered in a Group 3 event and I will be looking forward to that too after she finished second in the Group 3 Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown on Thursday. I very nearly didn’t run her because of the rain that fell but she was absolutely brilliant, just getting caught inside the final 150 yards by Duntle.

She had come on from her seasonal debut when second to Famous Name and couldn’t have run a better race. She coped with the ground but just wouldn’t be as effective as she would on good ground. To be fair, the same applies to the winner. After York, I have her entered in the Group 1 Matron Stakes at Leopardstown. She is certainly improving.

I didn’t think I was going to run Fairy Wing because he doesn’t like the ground either but the owners were up from Clare so I relented. He ran an absolute blinder to be third taking that into account. He ran more or less right up to his handicap mark of 83, which is a big step up, especially in those conditions. So we’ll sit and wait with him and hopefully get a bit of nice ground somewhere.

I said last week that I hoped Celtic Cailin might get her head in front at last at Downpatrick on Sunday and thankfully, that’s exactly what she did. It was a real battling performance to shed her maiden status, just holding out from Hepahepa Naeney. She probably go handicapping now.

I was very pleased with Magical Steps at the Curragh earlier in the day as the heavy rain that fell in the morning meant the ground went very badly against us. Fourth on her racecourse debut on ground she hated was very pleasing though. She won’t run again until she gets her ground.


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