Sunday 21 January 2018

Dwan expecting big Classic run from Gem

Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Michael Fortune

Michael Fortune

Ruairi Dwan knows what it is like to win the Sporting Press Irish Oaks after winning it twice with Borna Best and Borna Survivor. Now, 15 years after his last success, he is back on the trail again and is in the daunting position for the second year in a row of handling the favourite, Borna Gem, in the final of the Classic.

A year ago, Borna Gem faded from halfway when a strong favourite to take the prize and we felt that we had seen the end of the great heavyweight bitch.

She even produced a litter of six lovely pups to Milldean Panther in the early days of 2014, but Dwan had it in the back of his mind that she might have one final crack at the Oaks.

"Most people must have thought I was an idiot bringing her back, but she was in great form and her comeback trials were very good. I am expecting a big run from her," he said.

Borna Gem has won three of five starts since her return, but this is the acid test. Can she prevent the much-improved Velvet All Jam from leading around the first bend?

Always With Me was a one-time Pat Buckley runner, but returned to her owners, Joe McIlhone and Tom Spain, due to Buckley's English Derby sojourn. She has a lovely draw in one and is improving with each outing. Rule this one out at your peril.

Graham Holland's Brenval Star is the big finisher of the race and will be a big danger to all if she can turn close into the back, while Ridgedale Look and Cantkeepmein, in the outside boxes, will be the outsiders of the field but are well capable. A year ago, we felt that Borna Gem had lost her chance of Oaks glory, but perhaps she can make amends this evening at the main expense of Velvet All Jam and Always With Me.

On the undercard, Rockburst Vienna looks the part in the Open 750, while PJ Fahy's Tyrur Hagler can show the benefit of a move up to 550 to win the A1 third contest. Two huge young prospects, Dolores Ruth's Razldazl Zar and PJ Fahy's Tyrur Supermac, can have a big battle in an Open 550, while Satin Jessie can gain amends by taking the Consolation Oaks.

Early pace is a massive asset in finals and Ronnie McKeown's Atitboy can make it the difference between victory and defeat in the Toals Bookmakers Northern Irish Derby final at Drumbo Park this evening. Dudley Wilmott's dog is a model of consistency at the start and from the three box he should clear the bend from European King and then hold such as Gizmo Classic and Birthday Boy at the business end.

Four up for Jimmy

Jimmy Buckley scored a memorable four-timer with puppy debutants on Thursday night.

He sent three members of the Tullymurry Act/Jumeirah Duchess litter to Shelbourne and two others to Galway. Jumeirah Charl and Jumeirah Super won at Shelbourne in 29.04 and 29.53 seconds respectively, while at Galway Jumeirah Steed, in 29.39, and Jumeirah Charlie, in 19.22, were on the mark.

Irish Independent

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