THE Irish Field St Leger at the Curragh this afternoon very much centres on the great Yeats and how strong he is going to prove in the market.
This is one of the greatest stayers in the history of racing and, if stripping anywhere near the peak of his powers, will make short work of the opposition.
The problem, of course, is that the Sadler’s Wells colt hasn’t been seen taking the Acot Gold Cup back in June and is now at the veteran stages stage as an eight-year-old.
From this range, I prefer to take a chance on Dermot Weld’s Profound Beauty, who is unbeaten in three races this season and improving rapidly.
She toyed with Irish Derby third Mourayan at the Leopardstown on her latest appearance, cruising through the contest and quickening in style when asked by Pat Smullen.
The mud-loving Alandi and the progressive Schiaparelli also have a life, in what has the makings of a cracking renewal. In any case, I am reasonably happy to be with Profound Beauty and the more the surface dries out the better.
The other Group 1 on the programme, the ladbrokes.com Vincent O’Brien National Stakes, promises to be hugely informative.
Alfred Nobel is the only previous winner at this level, taking the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh, under an inspired last to first Johnny Murtagh drive.
Chabal only won a maiden at Leopardstown a week ago, but could be anything. The vote, however, goes to Kevin Prendergast’s Kingsfort.
This has been the plan since he landed his maiden at the Curragh on Derby weekend at the Curragh in late June. The selection travelled like a dream through that contest and the second (Stunning View), third (Viscount Nelson) and sixth (At First Sight) have all won in the meantime. The fourth, Shintoh, has yet to reappear.
The nap vote falls on an old friend of ours, Mister Tee, in the ladbrokes.com Blenheim Stakes. After a series of near misses, Ger Lyons’ colt got off the mark with a vengeance at Dundalk on Tuesday and is fancied to build on that success.
Lady Marian, unpenalised for winning a Group 1 at Longchamp last season, will be a tough nut to crack in the Irish National Stud Blandford Stakes.
Her overall form this campaign, though, leaves a little to be desired and preference is for in-form Chinese White, who loves soft ground and scored doing handstands here last time.
Another in-form horse, Aidan O’Brien’s Poet, is the nap choice in the Solonaway Stakes at the Curragh tomorrow. He made all to score in a canter at Leopardstown last weekend and is now on a four-timer.
The opening stage of the Listowel Festival tomorrow is savagely competitive and winner-finding will not be easy. Fosters Cross, in the Kerry Spring Water Hurdle, and Lucky William, in the Bumper, shouldn’t be too far away!
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