Skilful set to become the Juvenile champ
The Red Mills Champion Juvenile is a relatively new competition at Kilkenny but already it has become a hugely significant one and tonight's final at St James' Park promises to be another excellent guide to the future classic form.
Local trainer Paul Hennessy is bidding for a hat-trick of victories in the event, having been successful with De Real McCoy and Kilara Hey Mac in the past two years.
Tonight he is represented in the final by the Brian and Kathleen Murphy-owned Barefoot Artist and this young dog has definite prospects. He was fastest in the semis but would prefer an inside draw to his slot in four.
Best-drawn finalist is the Perry Aylward-trained Skilful Legend, though he did disappoint in the same red jacket last week. He is a very strong runner, nonetheless, and can take the €4,000 prize for owners Dan and Eddie Casey.
One sure to figure is the big-finishing Material Man which is trained by man of the moment Murt Leahy. He will be flying at the line and is clearly a name for the future but may have to give best to Skilful Legend (9.12) on this occasion.
A likely winner on the supporting card is Hennessy's bitch Awaywitdepixies (9.36) which looks very handily treated in this A1 contest.
She ran second to the final bend in the Sporting Press Irish Oaks final last weekend and a repeat of that running should be sufficient
The Longford Derby has reached the semi-final stage and a very large crowd is anticipated at the Longford track this evening where no fewer than four of the survivors have unbeaten records in the competition.
In the first heat Revilo Blue and Half A Cent have won both their outings in all the way fashion and whichever of them leads around the bend can remain unbeaten. Perhaps Reggie Robert's Half A Cent (9.00) may be the one from the outside draw.
The unbeaten pair in the second heat are Must Be Lady and Razldazl Al and the early pace of the Dolores Ruth-trained Razldazl Al (9.12) may be the deciding factor.
The Red Mills series of Unraced Bitch Stakes has been a great boost for breeders and the semi-finals of the Youghal stake will be run this evening. On first-round form the vote goes to Sean Dunphy's Droopys Aurora (9.03) to lead home Witches Belle in the first semi.
There could be a great clash in the second heat where impressive first-round winners, Donal Murphy's Badminton Rossa and Sean Cronin's Soviet Spirit (9.18) can dominate.
There is precious little between them but Soviet was the faster in the first round and may snatch the vital first-bend lead here.