Almela to snare Oyster spoils for Weld
Dermot Weld returns to his own personal fiefdom in Galway today and is trusted to plunder the big-race spoils with Almela.
The Ardilaun Hotel Oyster Stakes is a €55,000 Listed race that the Curragh genius hasn't won since Mutakarrim obliged at Ballybrit for Pat Smullen in 2001. Weld will also saddle Zhukova in the 12-furlong contest, but Almela is more likely to end the drought.
A Sea The Stars three-parts sister to John Oxx's dual Group One winner Alandi, Almela absolutely danced up by 19 lengths on her debut over course and distance at the summer festival.
While it was a modest race, the runner-up still nearly won at Tramore next time. It is never easy for a newcomer around the quirky Galway track's turning nature, so the manner of Almela's triumph shouldn't be underestimated.
Granted, the Aga Khan's three-year-old will have to be every bit as good as she looked first time up to account for some smart rivals here, but she is precocious enough to keep on side for now.
Stellar Glow and Ballybacka Queen are rated 100 and 101, respectively, while Dark Crusader is just two pounds shy of the ton. Tony Martin's charge beat Weld's Good Tradition here on July 31 and then finished third in a York Listed race. If Almela isn't all that, then Dark Crusader could be the one to take advantage.
Weld and Smullen should also collect with Simannka in the juvenile fillies' maiden. Placed in each of her three previous starts, including when second to Now Or Never here, the Mastercraftsman filly just got run out of it by Bridgets Fable at Tipperary last time.
Simannka didn't do much wrong and the third has since won, so she is fancied to make amends now back on some better ground, with first-time blinkers also sure to sharpen her up a little more.
In the earlier two-year-olds' maiden over an extended mile, Weld's newcomer Ebediyin is bred to be smart, but David Wachman's Alaskan Son should win, following his debut second here behind Landofhopeandglory.
Wayne Lordan's mount isn't drawn well in stall 11, but he should still have too much quality for the likes of the improving Al Mohalhal.
Smullen could also take the seven-furlong handicap on Ibergman for Sheila Lavery, who had such a fine time at the festival. Ibergman overcame a bad draw to score in a decent maiden at the meeting, and she isn't at all badly treated here off a mark of 76 for 9st 10lb. Wachman's commanding Gowran Park winner Dawn Mirage will be a threat in first-time blinkers, but he has to concede weight to the selection.
The day's nap vote falls to Lake Shore Drive in the concluding 12-furlong maiden. Weld's Alveena might be the one to beat and Deor is another to consider for John Kiely, who also does so well here.
However, Lake Shore Drive really caught the eye when keeping on for third here behind Nova on his second start. If Johnny Feane's charge makes similar progress on his third outing, he would be expected to have a big say under Fran Berry.