Proud Graham can underline classic credentials
The crackers will be popping at Shelbourne Park tonight, with the semi-finals of both the Comerford Cakes Open 525 and the Gain Christmas Oaks down for decision.
The Comerford Stake has become one of the most reliable guides to the following season's classics and the most significant factor of this year's Comerford has been the emergence of the Graham Holland-trained Proud Graham, which is now the 9/2 favourite.
Proud Graham (10.12) has the ideal draw in trap one in the second semi-final and he gets the vote to follow up last week's big run where he beat Razldazl Rince decisively.
The early pace of Toolmaker Scot and Black Alder will make them formidable rivals but it would be no surprise if Jo Jo Fantasy made it a Holland 1-2.
The inside runner could also prove best in the first semi where Liam Dowling's Anopheles (9.57) will wear the red jacket. Anopheles had been a little disappointing two weeks back but the Dublin Coach Juvenile Derby winner was back in top form last week when an easy winner in 28.52.
This is a tough assignment with Farloe Joey, the fast starting Creamery Bale, Scary Days and Razldazl Rince and the big finishing Philiblue in opposition. But if Anopheles gets to the bend with them he should have the strength to stay there.
The semi-finals of the Gain Christmas Oaks provide another opportunity to see the great Ballydoyle Honey (9.27) on show.
The queen of the track has retained her form magnificently and, while Follys View and Rural Maui are capable of getting away from her a bit early, Ballydoyle is simply electric when it comes to the home straight. Stand by for another super show!
The second semi-final will be a cracker in its own right and strong cases can be made for all six runners.
Moanteen Beauty just failed to catch Yahoo Perlena last week but Yahoo is definitely the better drawn this time. The major dangers could be Holland's fast- starting Skywalker Pearl and Paul Hennessy's big-finishing Priceless Lassie.
We'll side with Yahoo Perlena (9.42) to lead all the way.