Famous Name can bolster Smullen's assault on title
FORMER champion trainer Dermot Weld brings a particularly strong-looking team to Leopardstown this afternoon when some of his better-class charges should maintain the winning streak of stable jockey Pat Smullen in his ongoing quest for a sixth Irish title.
Course specialist Famous Name, representing this formidable partnership in the Trigo Stakes instead of Address Unknown, and Dubai Prince, which made an impressive Gowran Park debut and resumes in the JRA Killavullan Stakes, would appear to be their trump cards.
While they also have prospects of a juvenile maiden double with Eva's Time and Galileo-sired debutant Notable Graduate, Famous Name, which justified favouritism in the Trigo Stakes two years ago, is probably the team's banker in this Listed contest once more.
Unable to make an impact behind Cape Blanco in the Irish Champion Stakes last month, the Dansili colt will no doubt be much more effective on his return to the Foxrock venue in this lesser company after beating Steinbeck over nine furlongs there in July.
The rain over the weekend, which eased the going from good to firm all round to good in the straight, at least can be counted in Famous Name's favour towards the business end and course maiden scorer Priomhbhean, which continues to thrive, might be the main threat. For the future, however, it's the featured Killavullan Stakes for first-season performers that warrants greater examination and it may be no coincidence that Weld has chosen this Group 3 event, which he landed in 2003 with Grey Swallow, for Dubai Prince's second start.
A Sheikh Mohammed-owned son of Shamardal, like Michael Halford's Racing Post Trophy hero Casamento, Dubai Prince quickened very nicely to defeat the latter's closest Doncaster pursuer Seville by a length at Gowran over a mile a month ago.
Dropping back by a furlong this time will hardly inconvenience Smullen's mount, particularly with two stable companions also in the field, and the colt is nominated to put an end to the sequence of David Wachman's dual Dundalk victor Warning Flag.
Short-headed over today's route in August by Aidan O'Brien's Why, the Monsun filly Eva's Time has what could turn out to be a vital edge in experience over several well-bred debutants, notably the Aga Khan's Emiyna, and Brown Butterfly for Kevin Prendergast, in the opener.
The Weld-Smullen alliance on behalf of Moyglare Stud Farm introduce the home-bred Notable Graduate in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden, and the son of Galileo could be up to making a winning start to his career over exposed pair Tiz The Shot and Pirate Chest.
Later on, the spotlight falls on two of the season's top apprentices, the pace-setting Ben Curtis and defending champion Gary Carroll, as they hope to prosper in the continuing enforced absence through suspension of keen rival Joseph O'Brien.
The nine furlongs of the Derrinstown Stud Handicap Final, an invaluable series where the up-and-coming talent is concerned, may not be as suitable for Carroll on course and distance scorer Final Flashback as for Curtis, who rides Super Say, which was third to Sea Lord in a hot handicap at The Curragh last June.
Super Say's Tyrone-based trainer Andy Oliver will have Curtis' services as well in the concluding Elmwood Handicap, when their Navan scorer of last Wednesday White Diamond carries a 5lb penalty.
However, this plucky front-runner might not be able to contain Carroll's challenge aboard the older Hawk Flight.