Early gears can give Gem Oaks edge
Favouritism in the Sporting Press Irish Oaks at Shelbourne hasn't been a popular place, with successive market leaders out of the classic reckoning since the beginning of racing in the second round.
The burden has now passed on to Borna Gem as we approach the quarter-finals at Shelbourne Park this evening and this time it should prove to be more than a passing tribute.
Borna Gem has impressed in the two rounds and looks poised to become the third Puppy Oaks winner to go and win the Irish Oaks. She contests the first heat, where trap five provides a problem, but her early gears can carry her to victory from Tyrur Monica and Ilikeyou.
Previous long-odds favourite Smoke Pixie was withdrawn injured, leaving five runners in the second heat, where Milldean Tally can lead home Shes A Tornado and Solo Star. Ideally housed, College Maybe can win the third qualifier for Mossie O'Connor, with Tantallons Kay the major rival. Graham Holland's Cabra Millie will be red-hot for the last of the heats.
There will be huge interest in the running of 2010 Irish Derby champion Tyrur McGuigan when he returns to action in an Open 525 after an absence of 10 months. At his best, he would win this contest and he can lead a very classy early-paced field.
But the big fancy has to be McGuigan's younger kennel companion Tyrur Sugar Ray in the fifth race, another Open 525. He missed the start last week, but can make amends here.
Also tonight the final of the Barry's Tea 750 will be run at Curraheen Park and the €3,000 prize will take much winning. Matt O'Donnell's Mountaylor Ace could go off favourite to take the prize and will be the dog to beat if he can get away as quickly as last week. But if there is any crowding in the early stages, then the Chris Houlihan-trained Dogwithacollar will be very much part of the picture. Also keep an eye out for the ideally housed, lightly-raced Dream Winner.
Drumbo Park will stage the quarter-finals of the Northern Irish Derby and best bet could be John McGee's Ruthless Man in the second heat.
5pts Cabra Millie 10.15 Shel Pk
3pts Borna Gem 9.30 Shel Pk