Tuesday 21 February 2017

Bible Belt a divine choice in Blandford

Published 10/09/2011 | 05:00

The 2010 winner Eleanora Duse is out for a repeat victory in the Group Two Blandford Stakes at The Curragh tomorrow.

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While Michael Stoute's four-year-old is the sole cross-channel raider in the race, her presence is ominous, with five of the past eight renewals of the 10-furlong feature having gone for export.

Eleanora Duse has not won again in the ensuing 12 months, but ran well when beaten less than three lengths by Twice Over at York in July.

If she returns to her very best, she certainly has a live chance under Declan McDonogh. That said, the home defence is quite strong this time round.

Of the 11 domestic contenders, Banimpire is the one with the most arresting overall form. Jim Bolger's filly has had a superb season, her Ribblesdale success at Royal Ascot the highlight of six wins in all.

She should go very close here, but the improving Bible Belt might just rise to the challenge in the €61,750 contest. Unbeaten in three starts for Jessica Harrington this term, Bible Belt made light of the step up to Group Three company at The Curragh last time, and this looks a suitable target for her to showcase her talent once again.

An English runner that is fancied is Definightly in the Renaissance Stakes. Having come up short in a pair of Group Ones, the Charles O'Brien-trained Bewitched warrants serious respect back on her favoured soft ground in this Group Three.

Definightly also thrives in the mud, though, and Roger Charlton's representative comes here in good nick.

improved

While he finished a place behind Bewitched in the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, he improved on that with a cracking effort to be second to the five-time Group One winner Marchand D'Or at Deauville two weeks ago.

If he reproduces that level of performance tomorrow, he is the one they all have to beat in the six-furlong dash.

Earlier on the seven-race spread, eight fillies lay their various reputations on the line in the Listed Flame Of Tara EBF Stakes.

Devotion and Lady Wingshot bring winning form to the table, with the latter possibly the more appealing of those two.

Nonetheless, Yellow Rosebud, which had Devotion back in seventh when scoring on her debut for Dermot Weld in June, is the form pick.

On her only subsequent outing, the Jeremy filly found just the high-class Maybe too strong, and finished a head in front of Lightening Pearl, a facile Group Three winner in the meantime.

Also tomorrow, Aidan O'Brien utilises the services of the best local riders for his three runners at Longchamp on what is traditionally known as trials day ahead of the Arc meeting in October.

In the Prix Foy, Christophe Soumillon partners St Nicholas Abbey, as the four-year-old faces off against Sarafina, the current Arc favourite. St Nicholas Abbey should go close, as should Soumillon's second mount for O'Brien, Wonder Of Wonders in the Prix Vermeille.

Zoffany, however, may have the toughest assignment of the three under Gerald Mosse in the Prix Du Moulin.

Irish Independent

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