Wednesday 17 January 2018

Croisultan can disrupt Berry bid

Damien McElroy

Defending champion Johnny Murtagh is obliged to miss out on the final turf Flat fixture of the season at Leopardstown tomorrow when he hopes to be gainfully employed instead in France as his main employer Aidan O'Brien targets twin Stakes races at Saint-Cloud.

While stable companion Devoted To You and Colm O'Donoghue may not improve on last Monday's Trigo Stakes second to Famous Name, Dewhurst Stakes runner-up Roderic O'Connor could make the Group One breakthrough in the day's feature at the Paris track.

A year ago, O'Donoghue partnered Jan Vermeer to success in the Grand Criterium, with Murtagh third on Midas Touch, and Roderic O'Connor, which runs for O'Brien instead of Racing Post Trophy third Master Of Hounds, can repeat that worthwhile victory for the talented Ballydoyle team.

With the season's leading rider Pat Smullen in Australia for Tuesday's Melbourne Cup repeat bid aboard Profound Beauty, Fran Berry is the sole senior title contender on duty at the Dublin track, as Ben Curtis and Gary Carroll continue their keen duel in the junior ranks.

Berry, anxious to take advantage of his rival's absence, indeed has a full book of mounts, as former Irish title-holder Jamie Spencer makes a day trip from his English base for five spins, two of them on behalf of Dermot Weld, who left Ireland yesterday to put the finishing touches to Profound Beauty's preparations in Melbourne.


James Nash's admirable sprinting servant Luisant in the Tote-sponsored Knockaire Stakes, and last month's Cesarewitch runner-up What A Charm, which John Oxx saddles for the November Premier Handicap, probably represent Berry's best prospects of further reward in an eight-race card.

Definite ease underfoot at the Foxrock venue compared to Monday's session there on a drier surface, combined with an uphill finish to the seven-furlong Knockaire Stakes might not play to Luisant's strengths, however, and preference is for the Liam McAteer-trained Croisultan.

Curtis seems to get a particularly good tune out of the syndicate-owned Croisultan, the partnership having landed the Belgrave Stakes in this grade at Fairyhouse on a wet July afternoon, and they rate a safer wager now than last year's surprise victor Libano.

What A Charm, which is overdue a return to the winner's enclosure, should make her presence felt too under Berry in the November Handicap, even if she's taking on mostly older and more battle-hardened rivals in a race for which the versatile Majestic Concorde shoulders top-weight under talented apprentice Leigh Roche.

The solution to this ultra-competitive renewal could be found in the lower half of the scale and it would be very fitting if the Mullins brothers, Willie and Tom, were to fight out the finish courtesy of sister Sandra's Wee Giant and Fosters Cross in the Vintage Tipple colours.

However, both the break in the weather and the fact that Rory Cleary's partner is at a 3lb disadvantage on tomorrow's terms tempers enthusiasm for Wee Giant.

Fosters Cross comes here on the back of a smooth Navan victory and might be the answer in Carroll's hands.

In between, Ballydoyle's fluent, front-running Tipperary scorer Obligation, whose form ties in nicely with Dubai Prince and Seville, could be banker material for Jackpot investors when resuming in the Eyrefield Stakes backed by the Royal College Of Surgeons.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport