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Ballintemple to get off the mark

AIDAN O'BRIEN and Jessica Harrington look after Irish interest in today's Qipco 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket.

In what seems an ordinary renewal of the Classic, both Misty For Me and Laughing Lashes can be afforded considerable respect, though the race does not cry out in need of a bet. French raider Midnight Cloud is almost favourite by default.

At home, Ballintemple Star can get off the mark in the Sponsor a Race at Sligo Handicap Hurdle, the title advertising racecourses' general inability to attract corporate allegiance in the times we are in. James Brennan owns and trains the son of Basanta in north County Dublin and he obviously believes that the seven-year-old is better than his mark: the money came for him last time.

That day at Gowran, Ballintemple Star produced a career-best effort to chase home Like The Da, pursuing the all-the-way winner in a resolute manner throughout the final couple of furlongs. He did not really trouble Like The Da, but the form was endorsed when David Kelly's charge finished an unlucky second at Sligo midweek.

Ballintemple Star pulled seven lengths clear of third in a big field and is clearly going the right way. That was only his second handicap hurdle so he has scope to progress, particularly on goodish ground. A repeat of that Gowran run will see him in the first four and he is nearly sure to be at least 4/1 this morning.

Seamies Dream may go off favourite but the drop back in distance looks a burden for him. Bobby John is perhaps the main danger in a race in which not many can be fancied.


Ballintemple Star at Sligo, 1pt e/w at best morning odds

Dublin's superiority in Leinster is not quite as pronounced as it once was, but they still look a great bet to win the provincial crown at 5/4. Their two main rivals finished mid-table in Division 2, while the Dubs should have taken the prize in the top tier.

While Pat Gilroy's substitutions can be questioned last Sunday, Dublin's performance against Cork suggested that they can win the All-Ireland if they only garner the necessary self-belief.

They are in a different league, literally and otherwise, to their counterparts in Leinster. They should be odds-on.

Who is going to beat them? Meath have clear questions to answer after their League campaign, as do Kildare. Dublin's attack would wipe the floor with both of them and it is worth noting that last Sunday's reverse was their first in the League.

The challenge for Gilroy now is to turn Sunday's mini-capitulation against Cork into a lessen learned.

Which of their Leinster rivals would have been capable of going eight points up against the All-Ireland champions?


Dublin to win the Leinster SFC, 3pts at 5/4 (Paddy Power)

WILLIE MULLINS has had another fine campaign but even he trains some lesser types, among them Riltree. Take her on in today's Smirnoff Mares Maiden Hurdle at Sligo.

The French-bred was turned over at prohibitive odds in two bumpers and it is notable how weak she has been in the market over hurdles. Her form over jumps entitles her to go close this afternoon, but she encounters two miles on summer ground for the first time and I would be surprised if she improved for it.

Because of her connections, the bookmakers may afford her more respect than is merited by her form. Presenting Ruby can beat her with minimal improvement, while there are another two or three dangers in the race. Lay her on Betfair at even-money or thereabouts.


Lay Riltree to win at Sligo, 1pt at 2 approx (1pt liability, Betfair)


Profit/loss to €10 stake: €-15.59

Still running: €150


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