Thursday 23 February 2017

St Moritz can take Platinum gold

Damien McElroy

Yorkshire trainer Mark Johnston, who regularly raids the better Irish races and landed two decent handicaps at The Curragh on Derby day, turns his attention to Cork tomorrow when saddling the progressive four-year-old St Moritz for the Platinum Stakes.

This Medicean gelding, which made all at Newmarket earlier this month to deny globe-trotting Palace Moon by a neck for the Bunbury Cup over seven furlongs, steps up a furlong in trip at the Mallow venue where watering has been ongoing to ensure safe ground.

Strictly on the ratings, Johnston's charge will have to be at his best to cope with Jim Bolger's Gan Amhras, in particular, despite that colt's rating having been lowered by 7lbs to 110 as Kevin Manning's mount resumes after an absence of over 100 days.

Fitted with cheekpieces -- as is Aidan O'Brien's 103-rated filly Famous -- Gan Amhras might not quite measure up to the English challenger, however, presuming Willie Supple elects to adopt the front-running tactics that served St Moritz well at Newmarket.

The following Give Thanks Stakes at Group Three level for fillies and mares is always keenly contested and tomorrow's renewal appears no different, with their current marks suggesting the spoils could go several ways after the three English entries defected.

She's Our Mark, which is a regular competitor at Stakes level and has done her connections proud in the hands of Danny Grant, tackles a mile and a half as the best of these on paper at least, although lively ground might not entirely play to her strengths.

Form from Roscommon's Lenabane Stakes four weeks ago could hold the key here, with Karasiyra and Sense Of Purpose, which were separated by a whisker there, locking horns again, with Pat Smullen back on the latter after Keagan Latham deputised in the west.

A further strata to this competitive affair is the presence of Johnny Murtagh's mount Awe Inspiring, which opened her account in style here earlier this season before struggling when pitched into Group One company in the English and Irish Oaks.

Reverting to this more manageable level, Awe Inspiring should indeed make her presence felt on this occasion but might not quite match up to John Oxx's Karasiyra, with which Niall McCullagh has established a fine rapport.

Roscommon winning form may likewise be carried forward with success here by the Patrick Tallis-trained Cannot Give with Seamus Heffernan aboard, which is preferred to the often-placed Mad Existence in the Tote Trifecta Rollover Handicap.

Irish Independent

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