Wednesday 13 December 2017

Aviate can end Cecil's Irish barren spell

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Henry Cecil, who has endured a barren spell of 11 years in this country, may hold the key to a highly competitive running of the Blandford Stakes at the Curragh tomorrow.

In 1999 the popular English handler bagged a Group One double courtesy of Shiva in the Tattersalls Gold Cup and Ramruma in the Irish Oaks. His latest foray saw Twice Over finish third behind Cape Blanco in the Irish Champion Stakes a week ago, and tomorrow's Group Two could finally see him back in the No 1 spot.

Aviate, which disappointed behind Snow Fairy in the English Oaks at the beginning of June, makes her first racecourse appearance since that Epsom run. The early signs are that she will be preceded in the betting by fellow raider Eleanora Duse.

That one performed admirably to be third to the Cecil-trained Midday and Snow Fairy at York last time. While it was a smart effort, 12 furlongs seemed to work in Eleanora Duse's favour on that occasion, and tomorrow's 10-furlong trip may be more to the selection's liking.

Essentially, Aviate appeared not to stay the Oaks distance in June, but had previously done well to win a Group Three over 10 furlongs at York. On that occasion, under tomorrow's rider Eddie Ahern, Aviate had Eleanora Duse most of a length behind in third, so she already has the form in the book.

What's more, with just four runs to her name compared to the favourite's seven, Aviate remains unexposed. She will have to defy her considerable lay-off if she is to oblige, but, having won on both of seasonal debuts, that might even be a positive.

In the handicap that follows, there may value to be had about John Oxx's Zaralanta. With the Oxx runners luckless in recent weeks, Zaralanta could trade around 5/1, which would be generous given her profile.

A winner at headquarters on her debut last year, the Danehill Dancer filly progressed from her seasonal reappearance to be second at the course last month. If she can build on that now as she steps up to a mile, she will be hard to beat.

Irish Independent

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