O'Brien's London ready to thwart herald of a new Dawn
The Bank holiday fare at Naas and Cork lacks proven stars but both are largely competitive spreads.
At Naas, a remarkable 50 runners will contest three maidens, with the seven-furlong contest featuring the second outing of Herald The Dawn. Jim Bolger's colt is a New Approach full-brother to Dawn Approach.
On his debut here over six furlongs, Herald The Dawn was friendless in the betting. However, he performed more in keeping with his pedigree than his odds, battling on to be second to Reckless Endeavour.
Lieutenant General finished third and has since filled the same berth in a Leopardstown Group Three, so the form is solid. If Herald The Dawn comes forward for the experience, he could prove very hard to beat, but London has similar scope for progression.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained son of Galileo caught the eye when keeping for eighth on its Curragh bow. While he never looked like troubling the principals in a race that was won by stablemate Shogun, the manner in which he kept going was encouraging.
As such, London is fancied to trump Herald The Dawn under Joseph O'Brien. The O'Briens are represented by Lieutenant General's brother Shark Island in the six-furlong edition, but Curlylocks is preferred in that for David Wachman and Wayne Lordan.
With Mulkeyya, Zylan and I Will Excel also on duty, this is a pretty open contest. Curlylocks may be up against it, but this drop in trip from seven furlongs might prove critical.
Placed in two good maidens last summer, Curlylocks was fancied to make a winning reappearance at Fairyhouse in a race in which Zylan was second. She tired late on and hung a little as she did so, which might indicate that seven stretches her stamina.
Griko, which finished third, has since gone close at Leopardstown, so the form is quite solid. If the drop in trip has the desired effect, then, Curlylocks could turn the tables on Zylan. In the fillies' maiden over a mile, Mick Halford's Ebayya appeals. Mick Halford's Aga Khan-owned daughter of Azamour ran on well when fourth behind Easter in a decent Leopardstown maiden in the autumn.
That hinted that she might be above average, which could be enough for her to score here for Shane Foley. Halford and Foley might also take the opening juveniles' conditions race with Al Qahwa.
This is an intriguing contest, with Auld Enemy, Blood Moon and Mimicking all especially capable. Al Qahwa will have to be smart to emerge on top, but he improved on a fair debut to win going away at Leopardstown 18 days ago. If he makes similar progress from that, he ought to take a bit of stopping.
At Cork, Quest Of Valour is nap material in the bumper for Liam Burke, the 2007 Galway Plate-winning handler whose son Jonathan excelled so luminously at Ballybrit last week.
Quest Of Valour is due to be ridden by Jane Mangan, having stayed on purposefully when fifth here over two miles first time up. Over most of two-and-a-half now, the Shantou gelding could prove hard to beat.
Barry Geraghty might get among the winners when he partners Roconga in the maiden hurdle. The Edward O'Grady-trained Rakti gelding won a Clonmel bumper in May and then found only Tesseract too good at Bellewstown. He has previous hurdle experience, which should stand to him.