Drive on Royal can bridge 22-year Laurels gap
Last year Midtown Raffa and Drive On Royal both contested the Consolation Laurels at Curraheen Park, with the former winning that clash.
Tonight they go head to head in the final of the Irish Independent Irish Laurels and they can have a battle royal for the €30,000 prize.
Midtown Raffa is quoted as the 7/4 favourite, with Drive On Royal at 3/1 next best.
The race will probably be decided by the start and the first bend.
Moss O’Connor is hopeful that Midtown Raffa can take the bend from Neilus O’Connell’s Knocktoo Garry, but the form in this classic points strongly to Knocktoo leading them all a merry dance in the early stages.
Drive On Fancy, owned by 92-year-old Tom O’Donovan, is a big finisher and she also loves an inside draw. But trap four this evening may not be the end of the world as she is likely to get across to the inside pretty quickly.
Burgess Rumble will also be contesting the early running but he is drawn a long way out in five and that won’t help his chances.
Apart from Drive On Royal, the other strong finishers are Skywalker Echo and Mimis Ace, and they have decent each-way prospects.
The semi-finals could have provided the solution to this race. Midtown Raffa was 30 spots faster than the other heat winner Knocktoo Garry, despite being slower in the early stages.
Yet Drive On Royal came from five lengths down early in the back straight to only fail by a head to catch Midtown, and this highlights the prospects of the bitch here.
Chris O’Donovan, son of the owner, reports Drive On Royal (9.40) to be in fine form and I feel she can become the first bitch since Lisglass Lass back in 1993 to win this classic. Midtown Raffa and Knocktoo Garry can follow her home.
Other bets on the Curraheen card can be Ballymac Bonnie (8.48) in the Open 750, where Rosmult Martha, Native Hut and Fire Height Amy will also have support, while Ian Reilly’s Quietly (9.34) can step up from last week’s running to win an Open 525 and enhance his prospects in the forthcoming English Derby.
There will be massive interest in the clash of star bitches Ballydoyle Honey, Droopys Streak, Jumeirah Dancer and Badminton Maid in the first semi-final of the Healthcare & Transport Services Puppy Oaks at Shelbourne.
Ballydoyle Honey (8.58) can confirm her superiority; in the second heat Skywalker Pearl (9.13) can make full use of her slick starting.
The semi-finals of the Holmes O’Malley Sexton Solicitors Oaks will take place at Limerick and the three to follow can be Priceless Lassie (9.10), Slippery Hanna (9.25) and Sunrise Ice (9.42).