Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 17 December 2017

Cracksman to grow 'Wings' for Smullen

Controversial Curragh Derby likely to suit Gosden runner

Happily, with Donnacha O’Brien up, on the way to winning the Westgrove Hotel EBF Fillies Maiden at the Curragh last evening. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Happily, with Donnacha O’Brien up, on the way to winning the Westgrove Hotel EBF Fillies Maiden at the Curragh last evening. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Speaking on yesterday's 'Punter's Platform' podcast, Pat Smullen could see both sides of an argument that has probably done Irish racing few favours.

His silks on, Smullen is pleased that the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby will stay at the Curragh: it is a splendidly fair, world-class track.

Yet, were he a racegoer, that the crowd will number just 6,000 at a place under renovation made him feel uneasy.

But Smullen's misgivings about Horse Racing Ireland stubbornly insisting on racing throughout the Curragh's redevelopment will be the last thing on his mind as he steers Cracksman down to the start and the John Gosden runner appears to be the value in today's intriguing renewal.

Bidding to provide stallion Frankel with his first Classic success, Cracksman is also attempting to go two better after a fine run at Epsom. This was a renewal run, as ever, at a zany track, in which those ridden prominently generally faded.

As such, Cracksman, up with the pace but bang there at the wire, can perhaps see his effort upgraded. Ridden for luck, 40/1 chance Wings Of Eagles tracked Cliffs Of Moher, got his measure near the line and was in command under Padraig Beggy.

This will prove whether or not he was flattered. Ballydoyle imposes four other runners, so the globe's biggest racing operation can effectively call the shots pace-wise.

It is then up to Wings Of Eagles; Cracksman can be placed wherever Smullen is happy.

Dawn Delivers and Battle Of Jericho, which clashed at Leopardstown on debut last month, face off again in the opening race.

Without a great deal of confidence, Jim Bolger's filly gets the nod, but there are some notable newcomers here too, as well as the apparent Aidan O'Brien second-choice in US Navy Flag.

The Jumeirah Creekside Dash Stakes can see a reward in victory for Only Mine's consistency in the trenches. She should be right there for Joe Murphy in what rates a compelling if tricky Group Two, old boy Gordon Lord Byron aiming to add to his win here in Guineas weekend.

The Listed Millennium Millionaire Celebration Stakes is also a puzzler, but Ger Lyons' Sea Wolf deserves strong consideration. Bidding for a third course-and-trip decision, he ought to be thereabouts, with Flight Risk feared and Alexios Komnenos a dark one on just his third start.

Take Murillo, third in Coventry, to snare the GAIN Railway Stakes and get Ryan Moore on the winners' board for the day. Notably weak in the wagering, he gave a rock-solid performance, and turns out again relatively quickly back on home soil for Ballydoyle.

Richard Hannon pursues his third win for the stable (including when his father was in charge) in the Group Two this decade, Smullen aboard De Bruyne Horse.

Sheila Lavery's Crafted Jewel makes each-way appeal back at a mile in the €50,000 handicap. The fillies' contest could go to John Murtagh's Tobacco Bay, and Willie Mullins' progressive Laws Of Spin could bring about a double for Moore in the nightcap.

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