Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Darwin can continue on upward curve

Darwin wins impressively under Joseph O'Brien recently
Darwin wins impressively under Joseph O'Brien recently
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

DARWIN can cement his new-found status as one of the most exciting three-year-olds in Ballydoyle by landing an intriguing edition of the Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown.

Among his 10 rivals in this evening's €39,000 Group Three are Jessica Harrington's decisive Cork Listed winner Royal Blue Star and George Kent's Custom Cut.

Well held in the same Cork race, Custom Cut ran bravely behind Duntle – last year's winner of this mile feature – when edged out in another Group Three over course and distance back in May, and any rain would enhance his prospects tonight.

The Frank Dunne-trained One Spirit makes its seasonal bow having looked an improver last term, though Gordon Lord Byron is Darwin's chief threat, as he is eight pounds better off than when swatted away by the nap selection at the Curragh in July.

Nonetheless, Darwin appeals as being the most progressive option. Purchased by Coolmore for $1.3m in 2012, the son of Big Brown was less suited by the seven-furlong trip than Gordon Lord Byron last time, yet he had sufficient class to travel within himself before drawing a couple of lengths clear in the closing stages.

With many of Aidan O'Brien's indigenous Classic crop having lost their way of late, it was a performance that suggested Darwin has the potential to fill a rare void. Back over a mile, he can confirm that impression under the trainer's son, Joseph.

Earlier, the champion jockey's sister Ana might ride her first winner for an 'outside' trainer on Denis Hogan's Shalaman in the apprentices' race, while Connor King gets the nod to add to his huge lead in the apprentices' championship on Tom McCourt's Bangalore Diamond.

A three-time all-weather winner, Bangalore Diamond posted its best effort on turf when just run out of it by Doonard Prince at Naas 10 days ago.

He is four pounds higher in the six-furlong handicap now, but King's valuable five-pound claim means that he is in off a potentially favourable effective mark.

Ger Lyons and Gary Carroll ought to take plenty of stopping with recent Ascot runner-up Machete Mark in the seven-furlong equivalent, while on Tramore's mixed card, Bobskier has plenty appeal in the Harney's Of Dunhill Handicap over 12 furlongs.

A runaway course winner in June, Gerard O'Leary's mare was a head behind Crystal Earth when third at Cork, form that reads well following that one's ready success at Ballinrobe on Monday.

Granny On Fire was another facile winner at the Mayo venue, and Michael Mulvany's filly is the clear pick to take the O'Neill's Bar Handicap under Shane 'Fifi' Gray.

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