Tuesday 22 August 2017

Finn McCool looks a giant prospect on Down Royal's big day

Aidan O’Brien’s record in it is quite modest: only Changingoftheguard won the race for the barn since 1999. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Aidan O’Brien’s record in it is quite modest: only Changingoftheguard won the race for the barn since 1999. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Finn McCool, the English name for ancient warrior Fionn Mac Cumhaill, would be an appropriate winner of the Magners Ulster Derby today.

Legend has it he built the Giant's Causeway; that he might take the biggest Flat race run in Ulster - before what is expected to be a crowd of 7,500 - is an appealing prospect.

That crowd is three times what was at the Guineas meet at the Curragh, advertising how popular Down Royal is. And the track is well-liked by trainers too, with a smart field contesting the €100,000 feature.

Ana O'Brien ensures that the top weight's burden is minus 3lb and this well-bred colt appeals as the right type for the race. Aidan O'Brien's record in it is quite modest: only Changingoftheguard won the race for the barn since 1999. He is not obviously thrown in but stays well and was fast enough to win over a mile.

The fillies' equivalent can see Gavin Cromwell achieve one of his biggest wins on the level. Pandagreen, which landed a bit of a gamble at Leopardstown, probably remains well-treated and she appeals as the type for which a mile and a half will bring about more improvement.

The lock of the day for many will be Miss Power. It is hard to see what can beat her in the Louis Roederer Handicap, as long as she gets some tow into the race. Aggression is one to keep an eye on in the market.

They race both today and tomorrow at Gowran, the jumpers having their say this afternoon. Delayed Eloquence, which has admittedly been frustrating, can make all the running in the Whitfield Orthopaedic & Sports Injury Clinic Handicap Hurdle.

Trained nearby by Joseph O'Brien, she liked front-running last time at Wexford, jumped especially cleanly, and likely dropping to this trip will suit under Davy Russell.

Le Richebourg is the class act of the day in the Kilkenny City & County Vintners Hurdle. JP McManus' son of Network, a classy bumper horse, can provide another winner for Joseph O'Brien, as he has found a nice opportunity here.

Gowran's action tomorrow is on the level, the feature the seven-furlong handicap with a purse of €26,000. Course form at this tricky venue is worth plenty and Secret Wizard, just 4lb higher than when winning over a mile here in late May, has a fair chance of following up for Sheila Lavery.

Nimitz has sound each-way claims in the penultimate contest. By Casamento, his recent Leopardstown run reads well, and he was just touched off previously at Navan. He has a decent draw too. Michael Halford had a slightly disappointing Royal Ascot but can enjoy a little compensation in the opening maiden, as Godolphin's Port Lions has sound claims after his Curragh third on debut.

The nap selection is a somewhat speculative one. John Levins felt that Seapoint was capable of winning races, and it might be worth taking a chance on her now, as she has dropped 10lb in the weights ahead of the second race. Wayne Lordan is an eye-catching booking aboard the daughter of Footstepsinthesand.

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