Friday 15 December 2017

Berry to clear Path past Futurity rivals

Damien McIlroy

The Galileo Futurity Stakes, which has showcased the prospects of subsequent Classic winners New Approach in 2007 and Cape Blanco 12 months ago, stands head and shoulders above the supporting card at The Curragh this afternoon.

This €100,000 contest features New Approach's former owner-trainer Jim Bolger saddling classy maiden Glor Na Mara a fortnight after the American-bred colt divided Zoffany and Strong Suit in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes.

Stepping up a furlong on decent ground for the Group Two highlight should help Bolger's highly regarded charge, which has easy course and distance debut scorer Pathfork, a quartet of Ballydoyle hopefuls and outsider Longhunter to contend with.

Senior title contender Fran Berry takes over Pathfork's reins from leading apprentice Shane Foley, who guided Jessica Harrington's son of Distorted Humor to arguably the most impressive maiden success of the campaign to date.

This unexposed pair will test the mettle of Aidan O'Brien's four runners, with Johnny Murtagh pencilled in for the busy Samuel Morse, short-headed for the six-furlong Railway Stakes in June by English raider Formosina.

For once, the champion trainer may have to settle for a minor dividend at headquarters in an important juvenile test and, despite the claims of Glor Na Mara, preference is for Pathfork to further bolster Harrington's reputation.

Samuel Morse has plenty of leeway to make up on Kevin Manning's mount from the Phoenix Stakes, whereas High Ruler was far from disgraced when outpaced by Zoffany in the closing stages of their Group Three clash at Leopardstown a month ago.

Aidan's teenage son, Joseph, partners their Galway victor Robin Hood to gain further experience and, whatever his Futurity Stakes fate in tandem with Murtagh, they could end up sharing the riding honours with a double apiece.

The Coolmore partners, who retain Murtagh's services, will be expecting the David Wachman-trained Meow to make a successful return from a midsummer break when dropping to Listed level for the Grangecon Stud Stakes.

This daughter of Storm Cat and the speedy Airwave previously ran Maqaasid to a neck for the Queen Mary Stakes over the minimum trip at the Berkshire track and looks too good here for Moonlit Garden and Lightening Thief.

The following Ballycullen Stakes in the same grade is the opening leg of the Jackpot and investors will probably be looking at Murtagh-ridden Drumfire and Roses For The Lady, the top-rated pair on an official mark of 110.

Curragh Cup third Roses For The Lady will be trying to complete a John Oxx treble in this event after wins with Hasanka and Alandi, but Berry's mount, which seems best suited when forcing the pace, might not fend off Drumfire.

Joseph O'Brien's bid to challenge for the junior crown could be given a boost when Danehill Dancer colt Oracle, which was runner-up at Newmarket's Guineas meeting in May to the speedy Temple Meads, resumes in the opening maiden.

Despite his wide draw alongside Tashqeel, Oracle could make it third time lucky against Green Warrior, in particular, before Joseph dons his mother Anne Marie's colours when Holy Alliance makes her debut in an open-looking Loder Fillies Race.

Irish Independent Sport Star Awards

Pick our magic sports moment of the year and win a trip for two to London. To view the shortlist and cast your vote click here.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport