Tag Archives: Irish Derby

Preview: Irish Derby 2019

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Hello there, it’s Irish Derby Day! Let me tell you: this is an exciting day! Why? Well, the excitement really comes from all angles. Sure, we have the classy racing and the race itself – the Derby, off at 5.20pm – which shapes like a red hot renewal. But probably even more so, I feel, it’s a day when the new Curragh has the chance to delight.

Properly tested for the first time, it’ll be quite exciting to see how this unfolds: tested in a sense of how do facilities hold up when a large crowd is in attendance. Tested in a sense whether a large crowd actually materialise in first place. Attendance figures for Thursday and Friday were low. That was to be expected. Derby Saturday, on the other hand, has always seen a healthy crowd over the years.

Now that the new Curragh is firmly established, the weather – hopefully – balmy and dry in the afternoon, there really is no excuse for not attracting a solid double figure crowd today.

Curragh officials haven’t been particularly outgoing with their own expectations: 6-10.000 is what they are hoping for, officially. I’m sure behind close doors they’d be disappointed if there’ll be not in access of 10.000 in attendance today.

Tickets were €23 if you bought online in advance – that’s a cracking offer, to be fair. I’ve been critical of the Curragh and its pricing policy in the past. Likely will be in the future again. But this is a sensational offer. 23 bucks for what’s going to be an outstanding day of racing action at a modern, top-class venue – unbeatable!

The racing itself, as said there earlier, I feel strong about as well: the Derby aside, which I’ll preview in detail below, the supporting races hold up. Competitive handicaps that certainly offer value, plus some strong stakes races, particularly the intriguing renewal of the Railway Stakes – truth told I’m as keen driving down the N7 to the Curragh as haven’t been for a long time!

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5.20 Curragh: Irish Derby, 1m 4f

An exciting re-match looms large at the Curragh this afternoon as the 2019 Epsom Derby winner, runner-up and close 4th meet again. In those circumstances it doesn’t really matter that five of the eight starters belong to the same yard. This is all about Anthony Van Dyck vs. Madhmoon vs. Broome!

Can Anthony Van Dyck do the Derby double? I’ve never been the biggest fan of his: I opposed him in the Lingfield Derby Trial and even more so for the Epsom Classic. How dare I doubt a Galileo?!

Truth told, Anthony Van Dyck is rock solid – I’ve to concede. He already was a rock solid contender for the Derby. He’s even more so today. Because: he’s done it again and again, particularly taking all the relevant metrics into account: he’s ran three times to topspeed ratings of 100+ and he matched a 110+ RPR on four occasions also. He clearly is rather decent.

Hence the main characteristics of Anthony Van Dyck are “solid” and “consistent”. He usually runs as well, if not better, than expected – leaving a disappointing debut and Breeder’s Cup effort aside. You can also see why it’s difficult for people – like myself – to warm to him and (maybe) give him the full credit he probably deserves: this colt is as unsexy a Derby winner as I can remember for quite some time!

Now, perception aside, as alluded earlier, on ratings (and reputation, given he is the reigning Epsom Derby champ), Anthony Van Dyck is a firm favourite today. Undoubtedly. On the other hand: A 5/4 chance – really? I don’t think so. Sorry. I’ve got to oppose this lad once more.

Reasons are rather obvious: yes, on ratings he tops the field. But he’s not miles ahead of Madhmoon and Broome. He’s consistent, running to the same sort of form over and over again – if any of his main rivals can find any bit of improvement, he’s in trouble because as solid as AVD is, it appears unlikely he’s one with any additional upside.

And the Epsom race itself: Anthony Van Dyck looked a beaten horse two furlong out. He seemed to take full advantage of an opening with less than two furlongs to go, his jockey making a superb decision in the moment of the heat, maneuvering AVD out, sizing the opportunity for a clear passage.

AVD responded strongly and probably profited from the fact that he avoided the ding-dong battle that happened to his right side. The others didn’t quite see or notice him I suspect- they were locked up in their own little battle – while Anthony Van Dyck was too far able to finish his own race with the guidance of the rail.

Well, that’s my interpretation, at least. Anthony Van Dyck is a really good horse, no doubt. He’s certainly no world beater either. Even though he comes out on top in the ratings, his career highest top speed rating is nothing to shout about. If you’d run the Epsom Derby ten times from the moment the field turns for home you’ll probably get a different outcome any time – Anthony Van Dyck wouldn’t be as ‘lucky’ again, I suspect.

Okay, so we have that out of the way, which begs the question: who wins the 2019 Irish Derby? Obviously it would be an emotional victory if Madhmoon could land the big price for his veteran trainer Kevin Prendergast.

Madhmoon travelled much the best over three furlongs out in the Epsom race – travelling surprisingly well, because I have to admit –  I was wrong in doubting this lad to be good enough and/or stay the Derby distance. He duly did!

You can argue Madhmoon was a little bit unlucky, as he travelled so well, but had a rough passage from the three furlong marker on, having to fight for his position, squeezing through gaps, possibly lit up as a consequence – still he fought gamely to the line, and in our hypothetical game of running the race ten times again from the moment the field turns for home, you’d have to give Madhmoon a strong chance to come out on top a number of times.

Two issues I have with Madhmoon, though: despite the fact he is rather lightly, which may see him to progress further, he also had a number of opportunities to run fast already. He didn’t take these chances to run fast. A career highest topspeed rating of 99 – achieved in the Derby – is poor for a supposedly class act.

Further to this: my suspicion is Madhmoon will always show his best on a fast surface. With the rain we’ve got here in county Kildare over the last 15 hours or so, the ground may ride a bit too tacky for him.

While I fo see his potential for additional improvement, I also feel this is already reflected in his odds: 5/2. I can not make a case where I see him a better chance than that, at all.

Before moving to my preferred selection, a quick glance further down the market, to the outsiders in this field: realistically none of the long-shots should have a say here. You could make a case – with a bit of imagination certainly – for Norway to bounce back. At 50’s he’d be a decent each-way shout. But he’s 33’s in the betting. Which is only fair.

Truth told: none of the long-shots is good enough. Of course, it can happen from time to time that a pace setter proves difficult to peg back, particularly at the Curragh. Still, I struggle to make out a viable each-way alternative at given prices.

So, that leaves Broome as the one for me. The negative first: what I said about Madhmoon can be copied and placed here to count against Broome as well: for a supposedly class horse he’s yet to run particularly fast. A TS rating of 97 and an RPR of 117 – he needs to improve today.

Can he? I think if one of this trio is able to break out and move significantly forward it’s him. The reason for this is a simple one: he looked a fair prospect as a juvenile, but was always sure to show his best as a 3-year-old stepping up in trip. And so he did: Broome won the Ballysax and Derby Trial at Leopardstown in fine style, without breaking sweat.

On Derby day Broome was one of the more unlucky sorts. Not massively hampered or anything of that sort, but he was always travelling wider than ideal, covering extra distance and turning quite wide for home as well.

Taking that into account as well as the visual impression of him staying on strongly in the final furlong plus the fact he was beaten by a close margin and hitting the line with full momentum, potentially winning if the race is a few yards longer, is enough for me to believe Broome is the one with the most upside today.

There is a good chance he’s a dour stayer who prefers the Leger trip. On the other hand, with the bit of rain that’s falling, hopefully a strong pace and a stiff uphill finish at the Curragh, I strongly feel the conditions are right for him to shine.

Selection:
10pts win – Broome @ 10/3 PP

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The rest of the Curragh card: I don’t fancy anything as much as that I would back them at my usual stake. I placed some accumulators win and each/way (the bigger priced ones) to keep me entertained for the other races. That includes’s: 

1.45: Twenty Minutes; 2.20 Beckford; 2.55: Old Glory; 3.30: Global Giant; 4.05: King’s Field; 4.40: Fort Myers; 6.00: Mutadaffeq  

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2.35 Chester: Class 3 Handicap, 5f

This is a highly competitive race, but I feel the horse at the bottom of the market is grossly underappreciated, as Wild Eric now drops to the minimum trip for the first time, which I believe will suit this pacey front-runner down to the grounds.

The 3-year-old is already course winner, albeit over a furlong further; he’s been disappointing in three starts this year, but now drops below the 80 rating barrier that sees him racing off a feather weight in this race today.

Wild Eric ran to topspeed 84 last season. If the trip revitalizes him and he can come close to that he’ll be hard to beat today from a top draw, I firmly believe.

Selection:
10pts win – Wild Eric @ 15/2 MB

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7.30 Doncaster: Class 4 Handicap, 6f

He’s yet to show any sort of that form that saw him become a mid-90 rated sprinter as a three-year-old, but now dropping to to a handy mark as well as dropping to a class 4 Handicap, Roundhay Park appears ripe for a big run today.

Even though he hasn’t been in the money in four starts this year, I’d argue his 6th place finish at York in an ultra-competitive race back in May shows there remains plenty of ability and appetite for the game.

The good ground will suit at Doncaster today and this is a much easier race than anything he’s encountered this season so far. A mark of 85 with a good 5lb claimer in the saddle will see him go close.

Selection:
10pts win – Roundhay Park @ 13/2 MB

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Preview: Juddmonte International 2018

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This is not a vintage renewal of the Juddmonte International… as so many other major flat races this year. It feels a bit like a flat flat season, so to speak. I seem not to be the only one who feels this way. On the other hand, the question could be asked: are we undervaluing the achievements of Poet’s Voice?

Possibly. Possibly not. Possibly because he’s a five-year old, around for a long time, and this sudden improvement which has seen the Stoute inmate landing two major Group 1 races on the bounce – the Prince of Wales and King George – hasn’t caused the same excitement as they would have if a sexy Ballydoyle three-year old would have done the same.

Possibly not, though, because the key rivals he’s beaten at Royal Ascot were clearly out of form and not quite up to the standard you’d usually see in a King George either.

I’m sitting on the fence here. I don’t rate the Royal Ascot success all that highly, although felt Poet’s Voice King George success was a stunning performance, if only visually. Coming from off the pace, to peg back a fine Ledger runner-up, who got first run – that was quite something.

That says, I do not think Poet’s Voice has suddenly found all this dramatic improvement over the last winter, that has resulted in him shooting up the ratings from a 119 rated individual to a world-class high 130.

In fact, I do firmly believe – while acknowledging he seems to improve with age – he is not dramatically better than his runner-up performance in the Irish Champion Stakes last year. A view that may not be shared by many.

What does this mean in the context of this race today? It means that the gap between Poet’s Voice and the leading three-year old’s going to post isn’t as high as the official ratings says. And if that is the assumption then both Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior in particular must have cracking chances to overturn the favourite as they receive 7lb through weight for age.

While Benbatl and Irish Derby winner Latrobe can’t be underestimated, my view is that the Eclipse first and second are the main dangers to short priced favourite Poet’s Voice.

Personally I am more a fan of Roaring Lion but from a betting perspective I have to concede the price for Saxon Warrior is foolish. Let’s not forget there was only a neck between the pair at Sandown.

One could make cases for the Ballydoyle horses had the run of the race, or that Roaring Lion drifted to his right pushing Saxon Warrior toward the rails in the closing stages which may have cost him momentum.

Either way, there is clearly not a lot between these two. However the betting would suggest Roaring Lion is a couple of lengths better than the reigning 2000 Guineas winner. Not in my book.

The trip may be in favour of Roaring Lion, and also Poet’s Voice. Or is it? Saxon Warrior stays the trip as good as these two I believe. Given he had a good break now and comes here relatively fresh is a positive.

After all there is very little between three three market principles in my view.  Hence the 6/1 on offer for last years Racingpost Trophy winner is over the top.

Selection: 
10pts win – Saxon Warrior @ 6/1 PP

Saturday Selections: St. Leger Day 2017

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1.30 Chester: Class 4 Handicap, 5f

This type of race in this type of conditions won’t suit many in this field, but favourite Show Palace has a prime chance to bounce back to form. He already won three times this year and loves the mud plus looks still to have a bit more to offer with the right conditions.

Franny Norton in the saddle is another bonus, while the positive draw enhances his chances even further.

Selection: 
10pts win – Show Palace @ 3/1 Skybet

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2.40 Chester: Listed Stand Cup Stakes, 1m 4f 

Group 3 winning Duretto proves popular with punters though the well exposed and less sexy Soldier In Action is a better bet in my book. He thrives in tough conditions like the ones to expect at Chester today and stays all day long.

He didn’t land a blow in the Ebor, however won a tough handicap the same month of a mark off 106. So he’s clearly a smart operator. Rated within three pounds of Duretto, match fitness might prove and advantage for Mark Johnston’s inmate, I believe.

Selection:
10ts win – Soldier In Action @ 11/4 Paddy Power

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3.35 Doncaster: Group 1 St. Leger, 1m 6.5f

This years St. Leger shapes as an intriguing contest with five, six horses closely matched on ratings. No doubt, Irish Derby winner Capri warrants plenty of respect, though the ever improving Crystal Ocean, Stradivarius, Defoe and the filly Coronet all real chances to improve again with a big shout over the Leger trip.

However is the forgotten horse in the race another Ballydoyle runner? Venice Beach doesn’t get any love leading up to the race, even though he has some excellent form in the book too.

Sure, he looks short of top class over a mile and a quarter, however he shapes like a grinder who’s crying out for the trip. Watch back the Grand Prix de Paris, where he looked outpaced and beaten in the home straight. Yet he fought back gamely, found more and more and finished an excellent third.

At York in the Voltigeur he wasn’t a match for Cracksman. But he finished a clear second of some decent individuals. It might turn out that he simply is not a Group 1 animal, that says the trip and ground in combination make him a big danger to anyone in this field, I feel.

Selection:
10pts win – Venice Beach @ 14/1 Bet365

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5.15 Musselburgh: Class 3 Handicap, 1m 6f

I’ve been keen on Dominating the last time at York in the Melrose Handicap, though he flopped that day. We can draw a line through that I feel, though, given it was a very hot race. This is easier and it remains the fact that Irish St. Leger winner Jukebox Jury has an outstanding record with his first crop of three year old’s in Britain.

Contributing towards this has been the Mark Johnston trained Dominating himself, as he has won already three times this year, including over the 1m 6f trip and at Musselburgh.

I don’t think conditions will be an issue for him, in case the rain arrives. He didn’t perform the one time he raced on soft ground, but on pedigree it looks fine and he’s a different horse now, I believe.

Selection:
10pts win – Dominating @ 9/2 Bet365

Saturday Selections – 1st July 2017

2.20 Chester: Class 3 Handicap, 5 furlongs

Blithe Spirit hasn’t shown anything of note this season yet, however she has to be respected on return to her beloved Chester with softish conditions sure to suit. She has been given a big chance by the handicapper and has the advantage of a good draw.

Selection:
10pts win – Blithe Spirit @ 16/1 Ladbrokes

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4.15 York: Maiden Stakes, 1 Mile

White Rosa is the one to beat. She boosts a lovely pedigree, went close on debut and should improve a good deal with that experience under her belt.

The form of that race doesn’t look too shabby given the 4th went on to win a maiden subsequently.

Selection:
10pts win – White Rosa @ 5/2 Bet365

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8.10 Lingfield: Class 5 Handicap, 7 Furlongs

Express Lady looks leniently treated on handicap debut. She won a fair maiden over course and distance on debut tanking along for most parts of the race not dropping to bit to get in practically on the bridle whereas the runner-up a 82 rated individual who franked the form subsequently, was labouring without having a chance.

That was against boys. Today same CD against fillies, top weight Bassmah looks a decent threat but Express Lady should be too good of an opening mark off 73.

Selection:
10pts win – Express Lady @ 13/8 Bet365

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5.20 Curragh: Irish Derby, 1m 4f

A wide open renewal with no clear cut favourite as it’s been the case in the years before. The Epsom Derby winner Wings Of Eagles is here, though, and commands plenty of respect.

He is a legit winner of the big race in my mind. However his racing style is risky. He needs to have everything fall right for him. That was the case at Epsom thanks to a red hot pace and him finding gaps when he really needed them.

The Curragh is usually a fair track, however can – even more so when there is a bit cut in the ground – favour those up with the pace. In my opinion at least. Wings Of Eagles could still be too good but he will need all the luck in the world, I feel.

You got to respect when Andre Fabre sends one over. Waldgeist was a close runner-up in the French Derby and the longer trip today isn’t an issue. He is clearly the one all have to beat as tactically I feel he holds all the aces.

Cracksman was good in the Derby and should have still a bit more to offer given his general inexperience. The pace scenario suits him, so does the track.

I’m not a fan of Capri. A big, grey horse. Can still do better no doubt and may have not been seen to best effect at Epsom. However his overall record suggests he is not quite up to it.

One big price laughs at me: Douglas McArthur in the famous colours of South African owner Markus Jooste. This horse keeps defying expectations. He was fourth and less than two lengths beaten in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud as a 2yo behind Waldgeist, was runner-up on his seasonal reappearance in the Ballysax and won the Leopardstown Derby Trial as an unfancied chance.

He was then used as a pace maker in the Epsom Derby, where he outran his price tag once again, lasting for a very long time and finishing a gallant 7th.

He will be up there again today, but may race a bit more on his own merit. Taj Mahal may well be the Nr. pace setter. Sitting behind in second should suit Douglas McArthur. There are still some doubts about his stamina, nonetheless being with the speed will be an advantage in my mind and if he stays then he could be very hard to pass as he has already shown.

Selection:
10pts win – Douglas McArthur @ 15/1 Matchbook

Preview – Irish Derby Day

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The Irish Derby weekend has landed and it all started quite nicely yesterday – Algonquin was a fine winner @ 5/1. This week is a huge boost so far after a disastrous Royal Ascot. But that’s the good thing about racing: You can have a hard time but two winners later you’re very much back on track.

So today, Irish Derby Day! Some serious racing on offer at the Curragh. The sun is out, the ground is fast, the Derby poses an 8-runner strong field and the supporting card is sensational. Let’s try to find some winners!

4.10 Curragh: Summer Fillies Handicap, 7f

Three year old Military Angel should go close. She was unlucky the last time at Naas in Listed company and may be ahead of her mark. But she is small in size and this is not exactly a small field. Fighting for position is not her strongest asset, so I oppose her at a price that looks fair, but nothing more.

Colour Blue is a consistent filly. She should run her race. On a fair mark at the moment but others are better handicapped. Slipper Orchid may struggle of top weight, while Duchess Andorra is very progressive but has to overcome a 10lb rise in the mark for her most recent success at Gowran Park.

That day she beat Dermot Weld’s Sparkle Factor in second. This lightly raced four year old makes plenty of appeal. She should come on from her seasonal debut at she travelled really well and got just bit tired in the end, beaten by a fit and well handicapped rival. She came well clear of the rest of the pack nonetheless and is only one pound higher today.

She loves the ground and the trip, has a CD win on her CV and looked to win a Listed race at Killarney last year, when she travelled much the best but found the 1m trip a bit too far in the end. She looks progressive and well handicapped here today.

Sparkle Factor @ 13/2 Coral – 5pts Win

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4.45 Celebration Stakes (Listed), 1m

Nice little field, really competitive race. Looking very much forward to see how it pans out. I guess you know what you get with most of these runners. That says War Envoy is a poor favourite in my mind. Yes, he was probably well in at Ascot the other day, but now back in Listed class, he isn’t certain to follow up by any means.

I like progressive Tennessee Wildcat, but feel a track like Leopardstown suits him much better than the open, wide space at the Curragh. Bolger’s Flight Risk proved his 50/1 shocker in a Group 3 earlier this year was no flash in the pan. While Sovereign Debt may find this trip at this track beyond him. Though quick conditions should suit.

The one unexposed and potentially underestimated individual is Shepherd’s Purse. He was a bit unlucky in a hot Group 3 at Leopardstown nine days ago when the route on the inside was clearly not the one to glory. He had only five starts to date, won on his debut in taking style here at the Curragh last season, was subsequently far from disgraced when 4th behind Cappella Sansevero in a Group 3 but didn’t handle soft ground in his next two outings.

Quick ground today is very much what he wants. He has seemingly trained on and physically improved from two to three and travelled strongly the last time until meeting in-running trouble. He’s a very big runner today with the weight for age allowance – if he stays the trip. It’s far from given on pedigree. Although not impossible. At 15/2 he’s a price I feel is too big and I give him the benefit of the doubt.

Shepherd’s Purse @ 15/2 Betfred – 5pts Win

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Handicap (3YO plus), 1m

Plenty of interesting runners. Favourite Hasanour is expected by many to run a big race. He probably will  do so but has to overcome a big hike in the mark. Others appeal more to me. I like Ger Lyons’s Trinity Force. Reportedly he had a wind op over the winter which seemed to have helped as he looked good over 7f this year. Ground and trip may suit. Bolgers maiden winner is another interesting prospect.

But for a price I select Burn The Boats to go well. He has a strong record over this trip and needs fast ground and a fast pace to see him to best effect. He’s 2lb above his last winning mark but has shown some fair form this year. He was certainly not advantaged at Dundalk on his penultimate start when he travelled much the best but got a run too late. He wasn’t disgraced in Listed company at Navan when seen the last time either.

It’s a tough race, others might be better handicapped and he heeds things to fall right. But at 20/1 Burn The Boats is certainly a price to have an interest in. If he gets a clear run then I expect him to be bang there when it matters.

Burn The Boats @ 20/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

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5.50 Curragh: Irish Derby (Group 1) 1m 4f

Despite half the field trained by Aiden O’Brien, this is one of the better line-ups for the Irish Derby in recent years. Epsom Derby runner-up Jack Hobbs comes here as the clear favourite and takes all the beating if he can bring his A game to the plate today.

Storm The Stars was third at Epsom, though a long way behind Jack Hobbs. He finished the race well enough, but you wonder if he isn’t more of a Leger type? He would need a soft lead today to have a real chance to win I feel.

Giovanni Canaletto was fourth in the Derby, he ran okay but not as good as many would have hoped. Though the big race may came a bit too soon for this inexperienced full-brother to Ruler Of The World. He remains with potential for improvement. His comeback run when runner-up to subsequent Riblesdale winner Curvy looked disappointing back in the day but turns out to be very strong form. In my eyes he’s Ballydoyle’s number one today.

However a shorter price is stable mate Highland Reel. Yes, I was eagerly awaiting his seasonal reappearance, hoping he could develop into the superstar he promised to be after exciting performances as a juvenile. He didn’t quite fulfil these hopes. A poor French Guineas run, followed by a much improved runner-up effort in the French Derby. Nonetheless I feel he is not as good a three year old as he was a juvenile and I fail to see how the 12f trip will bring out any more improvement.

Dermot Weld’s charge Radanpour is a fairly progressive individual. Though his dead heat in a listed event three weeks ago doesn’t inspire me. You’d be disappointed if he’d come out on top today. Same goes for Kilimanjaro, who’s simply not good enough.

Surprise Oaks winner Qualify is a different proposition. She is really progressive and I don’t think her Epsom success was a fluke. She is that good. She needs a fast pace and then stays all day long. Not sure if these conditions are given today, but she can’t be underestimated.

But the value lies with Giovanni Canaletto in my mind. He has a lot to find with the odds-on favourite on the Epsom Derby form, but it is far from unlikely that there is more improvement to come from him. He is a lovely looking individual, raw but inexperienced. Epsom could bring him along nicely for the Irish Derby, so at 12/1 I side with him.

Giovanni Canaletto @ 12/1 Coral – 5pts win

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7.15 Curragh: Handicap (60-100), 2m

It was utterly impressive the way Sang Tiger made up ground late at Leopardstown recently when he had clearly the run of the race against himself. He came from a near impossible position to score cosily in the end.

He’s five pounds higher today but not too exposed yet, so he may be able to overcome this new mark. Quick ground is what he likes, and despite an ultra competitive field, he has as good a chance as anybody here and is a rather big price.

Sang Tiger @ 10/1 Sportingbet – 5pts Win