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Rain a threat to beauty parade

Profound Beauty stops off in the Irish St Leger tomorrow on her way to a possible tilt at the Melbourne Cup as Dermot Weld bids to continue his worldwide legacy.

She is a worthy favourite on form. However, the more rain that falls the more concern grows over her chances.

Tomorrow's two Group One races at the Curragh leave us pondering many questions, which simply adds to the excitement.

The Takashi Kodama-trained Pop Rock is the oldest horse in the Leger field at nine, but comes here after sluicing up at Galway and is himself a former Melbourne Cup and Japan Cup runner-up. They say class is permanent, but does it last into a ninth year?

The English challenge of Sans Frontieres and Tactic is strong, and you have to wonder would Flying Cross be as short a price if trained by anyone else?

Rajik is owned rather locally, has been supplemented and would send the Curragh into raptures, but can he step up to the grade?

In the National Stakes just a field of nine go to post, but with Zoffany, Pathfork, Janood and the intriguing Casamento, there is sure to be another race to remember tomorrow afternoon.

Hopes will be that the ground doesn't play a big factor and on the formbook the juvenile contest looks a duel between Zoffany and Pathfork.

Using Glor Na Mara as a guide, Zoffany beat Jim Bolger's colt by half a length, while Pathfork beat him a length and a half.

Can Glor Na Mara reverse all form and break his maiden or will the favourite for next year's 2000 Guineas emerge from this very race?

Those two races alone whet the appetite for a hectic weekend, now let's cross the fingers for a dry one.



HORSE BY HORSE GUIDE TO THE BIG RACES

National Stakes

A Word Apart (Dermot Weld) Pat Smullen - 16/1

Opened his account at the fourth time of asking just a week ago, so tough ask here, despite being impressive in winning, but others are certainly preferred.

Casamento (Michael Halford) Declan McDonogh - 8/1

An interesting one who made a very impressive winning debut at Tipperary last month. A lot to like about him and would be no surprise if he can make it into the first three. Certainly a colt for the future.

Glor Na Mara (Jim Bolger) Kevin Manning - 7/1

Still a maiden from four starts but has been unlucky to meet Zoffany and Pathfork on the way. Beaten a head last time in Group Three and will surely be knocking on the door again tomorrow.

High Ruler (Aidan O'Brien) Joseph O'Brien - 25/1

One of a Ballydoyle quartet, the third string apparently, and has four and a half lengths to make on Pathfork and two on stable-mate Zoffany so tough to fancy.

Janood (Saeed Bin Suroor) Alan Munro - 7/1

Supplemented by connections and rightly so as he certainly warrants his place. Unbeaten in two and needs to step up again, but certainly an interesting contender.

Pathfork (Jessica Harrington) Fran Berry - 9/4

The other supplementary entry, he won the Futurity Stakes by a length and a half and looks versatile in settling in or making the running. Pacemakers will probably mean he will take a lead tomorrow, but this colt might prove hard to pass in the crucial stages.

Rudolf Valentino (Aidan O'Brien) Sean Levey - 40/1

The outsider of the Aidan O'Brien runners. He is likely to be sent on early and cut out the pace. On the formbook, this one can't be winning.

Samuel Morse (Aidan O'Brien) Seamie Heffernan - 20/1

Another with his hands full having to turn the tables with Pathfork (4l behind) and stable companion Zoffany (over 7l behind), and has failed to win in five starts since claiming maiden. Unlikely victor.

Zoffany (Aidan O'Brien) Johnny Murtagh - 7/4

Looks like going off favourite in quest to make it four on the trot and six from seven starts. A worthy favourite with only defeat coming at Royal Ascot but this is arguably the first real test since then and the question is can he pass it?

Cronin's Choice: 1. Pathfork 2. Zoffany. 3. Casamento

Irish St Leger

Kite Wood (Saeed Bin Suroor) Alan Munro - 7/1

Disappointed badly on last two starts and not the most dependable of sorts by the look of things. Would be a surprise if he won here as ground won't be ideal. Others preferred.

Pop Rock (Takashi Kodama) Fran Berry - 16/1

An interesting contender, who will rise 10 years of age on January 1. Would be the oldest horse ever to win the race, but has been around the world and ran with credit almost everywhere. Comes on the back of a facile win. Take a chance at a price.

Rajik (Charlie Swan) Declan McDonogh - 11/1

Supplemented after three wins on the bounce, two in listed company, and has been a credit to connections. This may be a step too far, but they were dead right to take a chance.

Sans Frontieres (Jeremy Noseda) Olivier Peslier - 11/4

Has won well over 1m4f and 1m5f recently and is current second favourite. No stamina issues and might just handle the ground better than most. Real live contender.

Tactic (John Dunlop) Tadhg O'Shea - 8/1

Disappointed last time but beat Profound Beauty prior to that at the Curragh over 1m6f. If you can forgive him for that last effort, he has to be in the first three.

Profound Beauty (Dermot Weld) Pat Smullen - 7/4

A worthy favourite on nice ground but after a wet night around HQ last night, and with more forecast today, her chances must be unfortunately diminishing. If the ground comes up good, and proper good, she has to be fancied, anything less and take a watching brief.

Flying Cross (Aidan O'Brien) Johnny Murtagh- 9/1

Lightly raced and has to be respected considering he emerges from Ballydoyle. Needs to improve again and has won on yielding ground, but hard to fancy all the same.

Lady Lupus (Aidan O'Brien) Joseph O'Brien - 16/1

Tough filly who ran a blinder as a 66/1 chance in the Irish Oaks, gets an allowance and is higher rated than Flying Cross, but needs to step up much further if she is to win this.

Cronin's Choice: 1. Pop Rock, 2. Tactic 3. Profound Beauty


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