Classy Fame to prove top of Crop
Fame And Glory's reappearance at Navan tomorrow adds a touch of class to the weekend's Flat proceedings, but there is no shortage of decent quality action on today's seven-race programme at Naas.
Three English-based runners take their chance in the €26,000 Woodlands Stakes, with Dandy Nicholls' Inxile, successful under his son Adrian two years ago, the likely favourite. Snaefell, which won the five-furlong Listed event for Mick Halford in 2008, must concede weight to each of his 10 rivals if he is to score for a second time.
That might prove beyond Johnny Murtagh's mount, as Inxile comes here fit and in good heart, having been busy in Dubai. On his most recent start at Meydan in March, Inxile finished just three lengths behind the classy JJ The Jet Plane, so it would be no surprise to see him record a third course and distance triumph now.
The pick of the day's runners is Elusive Award in the seven-furlong handicap. Andrew Oliver's four-year-old isn't drawn well in the second widest stall of 16, but he ran a fine race to be third behind Northern Rocked at Leopardstown last week.
Beaten only by race-fit opponents, Elusive Award stayed on all the way to the line, and he is fancied to reverse placings with Northern Rocked off nine-pound better terms. From the inside berth, Northern Rocked is a danger again, as is the three-year-old Whipless on the back of a respectable effort in the 2,000 Guineas Trial last time.
In the previous six-furlong handicap, Rahya Cass is also taken to overcome a poor draw. Tommy Stack's Rahy filly travelled well before tiring in heavy ground behind West Coast Dream at the Curragh on her reappearance, so she could gain revenge over Ben Curtis' mount on better going off nine-pound better terms here.
Neighbourly, fifth in a decent Curragh maiden behind Samuel Morse a year ago, can get off the mark in the opener over a mile, while her handler Kevin Prendergast could bag a quick double with Obligada in the next.
Deire Na Sli is the horse to beat in the conditions event, but Sam James' claim gives Limerick-winner Obligada a chance.
Notwithstanding Fame And Glory's defeat by two inferior horses on his seasonal debut at the Curragh in 2010, you couldn't oppose the 2009 Irish Derby winner when he steps up to a mile and five furlongs in tomorrow's Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan.
The son of Montjeu soon atoned for that reversal by winning his next four, his best performance coming when he returned to 12 furlongs in the Coronation Cup. Nebula Storm and Fictional Account are the pick of Fame And Glory's six rivals, but shouldn't trouble him if he gets the trip, which his pedigree suggests he should.
While Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen look to hold the upper hand with Catalpa Sail and Danziger in a couple of the earlier heats, Johnny Murtagh, whose book is full with seven mounts, has some fine spins later in the day. Kirinda, Reasons Unknown and Zanughan, his last three rides, could all win.
The last of those three listed may be the best of the bunch. John Oxx's Azamour three-year-old took a while to find his stride on his recent debut at the Curragh, but he flashed home when he got the hang of it, taking third behind Marksmanship and Notable Graduate. With Notable Graduate scoring in good style at Tipperary on Thursday, that form is solid.