Saturday 16 December 2017

Banimpire ready to stake claim


While the majority of the racing public was out enjoying the thrills and spills of another highly energetic Galway festival, HRI were announcing next year's fixture list, a revamp that seems to have been positively received.

Moving the Irish Derby from Sunday to a Saturday twilight meeting is the biggest change and it looks like a smart move. Saturday evenings have proved a popular time for sport if attendances for the All-Ireland qualifiers are anything to go by and this should also allow for a bigger television audience.

It should also avoid any clash with the Kildare football team, a problem that was evident this year when the Derby had to compete with a Leinster semi-final at Croke Park. There will be no such problem at racing headquarters today though, and there is a quality card in store for racing fans.

The Royal Whip Stakes today has a far more competitive look to it than it did when Fame And Glory took the race last year at prohibitive odds of 1/12. In saying that, Jim Bolger's Banimpire looks set to go off a warm favourite on her ninth race of the season. Only just denied by an inspired Frankie Dettori on Blue Bunting in the Irish Oaks, Banimpire deserves the favourite's tag here and a drop down in trip shouldn't pose any problem for the ultra-consistent filly.

Kevin Prendergast's Dunboyne Express has been disappointing this season, especially on his previous run at Leopardstown, so for that reason it may be that Fozzy Stack's Mutahadee gives the favourite most to do.

Aidan O'Brien has a fantastic record in the Keeneland Debutante Stakes and his filly Maybe will be a warm order to enhance Ballydoyle's record in the Group Two event.

The daughter of Galileo could hardly have been more impressive at Royal Ascot but perhaps a more telling sign of her ability is the fact that La Collina, the horse she had in second at Leopardstown on their previous run, is seen good enough to take her chance against the colts in today's Group One race, the Phoenix Stakes, instead of racing amongst her own sex here.

Jessica Harrington's team of Flat horses remain in good form and she holds another leading chance of Group race glory with Remember Alexander. But it could be that Jim Bolger's Teolane is the most interesting alternative to the favourite. You could excuse her last run in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot -- she was awkward leaving the stalls -- and so could represent a bit of value at odds of around 8/1.

The sprinting division in this country is poor by British standards and that is best illustrated by the betting in the fourth and final Group race on today's card, the Phoenix Sprint Stakes. James Fanshawe's Deacon Blues has gone from strength to strength in his three runs this season but likely second favourite Hitchens, which finished close to Dream Ahead in the July Cup previously, may be the one to be on today.

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