Ronan's Bay set to sail home for Kent
George Kent's select team always deserves respect and the Tramore-based handler can make the long journey north to Down Royal pay with Ronan's Bay this afternoon.
Although Kent specialises in pre-training, he has recently switched from campaigning a handful of jumpers to a few Flat horses. In his first two seasons, he has enjoyed two wins from just nine Flat runs, with five of the remaining seven finishing in the first four.
Ronan's Bay and Custom Cut, which contests the Value Cabs Rated Race, are the only two horses that he has run this term. Of the two, Ronan's Bay appeals as the most interesting option under Danny Grant in the valuable EBF Coolmore Stud Ulster Oaks.
Thursday's Leopardstown scorer Strandfield Lady heads the weights in the €40,000 handicap, with Jazz Girl, Lady Bennett, Livia Galilei and Balrath Hope other recent winners among a competitive field of 12.
Cloudracer and Zariyna are two others near the bottom of the page with decent credentials, but it is Ronan's Bay which stands out.
Successful at Fairyhouse on her second start as a juvenile, the daughter of Johannesburg subsequently took third behind the 1,000 Guineas heroine Homecoming Queen in a Listed race at The Curragh in October.
Well beaten first time up in the Guineas trial at Leopardstown last month, Ronan's Bay then improved to chase home Mizani at Navan two weeks ago. Danny Grant's mount stayed on dourly to grab second behind the impressive winner over a mile on that occasion, leaving the impression that a step-up to today's 10-furlong trip would be ideal.
If that proves to be the case, then a first-time rating of 85, that translates into just 8st 12lb, doesn't seem in the least bit harsh for a horse with genuine potential.
In Custom Cut's race, Knock Stars is taken to follow up his recent Fairyhouse win for Pat Smullen, who is also fancied to take plenty beating on Quick Glimpse in the concluding maiden over a mile and a quarter.
Of the nine runners in that, the Dermot Weld-trained filly has shown most, losing little in defeat when second to Queens Visit at Clonmel last time.
Quick Glimpse may not need to improve much to go one better in this company, and the application of first-time blinkers ought to ensure that her mind is fully focused on the job.
Thomasgainsborough, a close fourth on his handicap bow at Killarney, gets the nod for Ballydoyle on his first stab at 12 furlongs in the Magners Ulster Derby, while The Fox Tully can complete a quick hat-trick for the Keane family in the Louis Roederer Handicap.
Ger Keane's seven-year-old has been a revelation of late, so a mere 5lb penalty for his Sligo triumph under the trainer's son Colin on Tuesday may not halt his progress.