Saturday 16 December 2017

Flying Natalee faces huge Oaks test

Michael Fortune

Michael Fortune

There are two major venues in focus this evening with Shelbourne hosting the quarter-finals of the Sporting Press Micro ID Irish Oaks while Limerick will be the venue for the first round of the Kerry Agribusiness Irish St Leger.

The favourite for the Oaks is Forest Natalee which has been flying for Martin Lanney, who reports her to be in great order.

But she faces a stiff task in the opening heat with big-finishers Coolavanny Pet and Airmount Tess leading the opposition. Natalee's early pace may give her sufficient advantage to hold on at the business end.

Her main rival in the long-odds betting is the John Linehan-trained Droopys Harbour which appeals as the nap selection of the night in Heat 3.

Pat Buckley's improving Droopys Dargle can turn over Cabra Angel in Heat 2 while Peter Cronin's Mustang Vienna can use her early pace to full effect in Heat 4, where Ardrahan Zindi and Tibet look the dangers.

The withdrawal of Native Chimes from the Leger is a real disappointment. He was one of the leading fancies for the Classic but he has damaged a shoulder and is not likely to race again until next year.

The favourite to take this Classic is Graham Holland's Derby third Sonic. He was due to meet Native Chimes in Heat 6 and now his chief rival can be Jaytee Barracuda.

Best bets at Limerick can be Coolavanny Mason (7.40), Vardy (7.55), Clonbrien Hero (8.10), Dumas (8.40) and Swithins Brae (9.10).

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