Thursday 20 September 2018

City Ballerina can keep Harrington dancing

Alpha Centauri and jockey Colm O’Donoghue powers clear of their rivals to land yesterday’s feature at Royal Ascot, the Coronation Stakes
Alpha Centauri and jockey Colm O’Donoghue powers clear of their rivals to land yesterday’s feature at Royal Ascot, the Coronation Stakes

Michael Verney

THE champagne is likely to have been flowing in Moone last night as Jessica Harrington toasted her first Royal Ascot success with Alpha Centauri but the 71-year-old's thirst for winners continues closer to home today.

Down Royal isn't quite as glamorous as Ascot but the second day of their Summer Festival offers some lucrative prizes with the Magners Ulster Derby (3.35) headlining an intriguing seven-race Flat card.

Colm O'Donoghue will have had little time to celebrate his Royal winner as he gets the leg up on Harrington's consistent filly CITY BALLERINA in the eight-runner contest worth €100,000.

While the daughter of Rip Van Winkle may still be a maiden after five runs, she has progressed with every run and enjoys a 6lb swing from her second-placed run behind Joseph O'Brien's Remmy D in a Curragh handicap earlier this month.

Jim Bolger is normally the man to follow with three winners in the last four renewals but top-weight Change Of Velocity will have to show even more improvement from his Gowran Park run, when he got off the mark at the fifth time of asking.

Dermot Weld's Sheberghan also holds strong claims following her Sligo romp last month while bottom-weight Well Why Not has been a good money spinner for Adrian McAllister, but City Ballerina may get her day in the sun.

Johnny Murtagh has hit the ground running this season, training seven winners in the last 14 days, and while out of luck at Ascot earlier this week with Yolo Again, the former champion jockey may find compensation in the Lisburn Bowl Irish EBF Ulster Oaks Fillies Handicap (4.15).

No horse priced above 8/1 has prevailed in the last 10 years, so it pays to stick with those at the head of the market and BEACH WEDDING fits the bill for a number of reasons.

Already a comfortable course winner last September, Rory Cleary's mount is raised 8lb for back-to-back victories at Gowran and Leopardstown but that seems well within the filly's reach.

The extra half-furlong will play to her strengths and she was getting stronger the closer she got to the finish line at Leopardstown, although Mazzuri will provide formidable opposition.

Former Kildare footballer Willie McCreery will be hoping for a good result on two fronts as the Lilies face Longford in the All-Ireland qualifiers this evening while the daughter of Raven's Pass is a danger after battling gamely at Gowran on just her second career start.

She is a bit of an unknown quantity, however, while Sheberghan's performance will give some clues of the chances of Bolger's Active Approach. Murtagh's charge may be the safest bet and she can continue his rich vein of form.

An eight-race jumps card at Gowran Park today will also keep punters busy with CHISHOLM TRAIL expected to bounce back from a disappointing showing at Listowel in the opening mares hurdle (1.40).

Held in high regard by Paul Nolan following her bumper win at Wexford last month, this looks a good opportunity to score while attention turns to the flat at the Kilkenny track tomorrow.

An open www.gowranpark.ie Handicap (3.05) can go the way of Richard O'Brien's course and distance winner THAT IS THE SPIRIT, raised just 5lb having left recent form well behind him to score earlier this month.

Irish Independent

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