Branch Line on track for Tipperary bid
Andrew Slattery believes Branch Line will not be out of place in the Coolmore Canford Cliffs Stakes at Tipperary today.
The son of Rip Van Winkle made a winning debut at Roscommon almost eight weeks ago and the Thurles trainer expects him to be all the better for it.
"It's a hot race, but we like our horse and we'll see where we stand with him," said Slattery. "He's in good nick - he's ready to run. It won't matter what ground turns up as I don't think ground is an issue.
"He's not your typical two-year-old. We gave him a good break after Roscommon. We'd have liked to have got another gallop into him but he's fairly straight and will improve for the run. We like him and hope we're not just there to make up the numbers."
Among Branch Line's six rivals are two winners from last week's Galway Festival, the Aidan O'Brien-trained Capri and Right Honourable from Dermot Weld's stable. In a strong line-up, Boyfriend Brian bids to take his 100 per cent record to three for trainer Ger Lyons, while David Wachman's Intern looked good when winning on his racecourse bow at Leopardstown last month.
Meanwhile, Stellar Mass's victory in the Group Three Ballyroan Stakes was the highlight of a fine Leopardstown four-timer for Jim Bolger last night.
The Irish Derby third, a 7/2 shot, edged out Almela (7/1) and favourite Bondi Beach (5/4) in the 1m 4f feature and Bolger said he will now be aimed at Longchamp's Prix Niel.
The trainer and Kevin Manning also scored with Laoch Na Mi (5/4f) in the Bulmers Live at Leopardstown Maiden and the concluding 1888 Restaurant Maiden with Lightning Bullet (5/1), while McGuigan (13/2f) took the Strypes Apprentice Handicap under Daniel Redmond. Laoch Na Mi will continue his racing career in Hong Kong, Bolger confirmed after his smooth success.
"His owners (the Military Syndicate) bought him after the Curragh run and he'll go to Hong Kong now. He should do well out there," Bolger said.
Willie Mullins was also among the winners at the Dublin venue when Laws Of Spin stepped up to 1m 7f to land the Student Initiative Handicap for his second win in 17 days under Shane Foley.
"It was a big step up in trip and I wasn't sure if he'd get the trip," Foley said, "but Willie told me he would; everyone knows who Willie Mullins is, so who am I to question him!"
At Sligo, Galway Plate-winning jockey Donagh Meyler continued his rich vein of form with a double courtesy of Duke Cass (2/1jf) for trainer Karl Thornton and Kylecrue (15/2) for John Ryan, who also doubled up after Aunt Eileen (7/4f) took the opener.