Chrysanthemum gets the nod
CONDITIONS will not be for the faint-hearted today at Cork where heavy ground will put a big emphasis on stamina, even in the sprint races.
Feature event on the all-Flat card is the Listed Corkracecourse.ie Navigation Stakes, in which Chrysanthemum takes a marked drop in grade.
This likeable filly is a dual Group Three winner, but David Wachman's four-year-old struggled in the Blandford Stakes when last seen, although the quality of opposition is far inferior.
On paper, the biggest threat should come from Rock Critic, which won't mind the ground and fared well enough when upped to this level at Killarney, but Kevin Prendergast's Crystal Kangaroo could well emerge as the main danger.
A lightly raced three-year-old, the daughter of Shirocco showed a liking for soft ground last month when shedding her maiden tag at Killarney, and there's no doubt she's the horse in the field with the most scope for improvement.
But with the mud-loving Hurricane Twister likely to take the field along at a decent clip, that should play to the strengths of Chrysanthemum, and Shane Foley's mount gets the nod.
No doubt champion trainer Aidan O'Brien will be watching his runners at Ascot, but he will also be keeping an eye on proceedings in the the Coolmore Rip Van Winkle Maiden as Derby entry Twilight Zone is fancied to build on his debut fourth behind exciting stable companion Battle Of Marengo.
Champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins hasn't had much joy from Blue Bullet since a victory here back in June, but Gary Carroll's mount is still likely to head the market in the conditions event for juveniles over five furlongs.
However, a chance is taken on Joseph Murphy's Red Queen, which is in receipt of a useful 10lb and should improve upon her second to Awakened Spirit in similar conditions at Tipperary.
Qasser ran well in some decent maidens -- including when fourth on soft ground at the Curragh -- back in the spring, and despite the fact that he hasn't run in five months, Prendergast's charge should be good enough to claim the closing maiden over an extended mile.
Christy Roche's Madeira Girl gave Gearoid Brouder a win on his first ride in public at the Curragh last Sunday, but the pair might have to settle for the runner-up spot behind the consistent Susiecot in the EBF Fillies Handicap.
Another horse attempting to follow up a recent Curragh success is Srucahan in the opening six-furlong sprint, but the vote here goes to Pat Flynn's Big Bad Billy Bob, which has solid form over further.