Wednesday 16 January 2019

Dual Classic hero Capri to score on return

Trainer Aidan O’Brien
Trainer Aidan O’Brien
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

There's no shortage of class on show in a seven-race Naas card today with the notable return of last year's Irish Derby and Doncaster St Leger hero Capri.

Aidan O'Brien hasn't won the Group Three Bookmakers Alleged Stakes (3.50) since Dylan Thomas prevailed 11 years ago but the Ballydoyle maestro holds all the aces with three of the five runners.

Capri disappointed when looking over the top in his final run last season in the Arc but had been scintillating prior to that as he notched two Classic successes and the four-year-old will justifiably be warm order favourite under the brilliant Ryan Moore.

Jessica Harrington's Yarmouth Listed winner Beautiful Morning and the Ger Lyons-trained Cannonball oppose the hotpot but his biggest threat is likely to come from stable-mates Cliffs Of Moher and Yucatan in the 1m2f contest.

Cliffs Of Moher excelled this time last year on his way to claiming the runner-up spot in the English Derby and Seamie Heffernan's mount is respected but his form tailed off at the end of last season and a watching brief is advised.

Yucatan had a setback when being prepared for the Derby and hasn't raced in nearly a year so his potential is not yet known and Capri is the one to beat despite O'Brien stressing that the grey may need a couple of runs before hitting top gear.

The preceding Group Three Gladness Stakes (3.15) is a hot six-runner, €60,000 contest with David O'Meara sending Larchmont Lad across the Irish Sea in a bid to go one better than his Listed second at Leopardstown in October when finishing ahead of the re-opposing Making Light before being relegated in the stewards' room.

Dermot Weld's charge has since shown that he has trained on and wasn't overly extended when taking a similar event here three weeks ago, so he commands most respect.

However, dangers lurk in the shape of O'Brien's War Secretary, Ger Lyons' Psychedelic Funk and Willie McCreery's recent Listed winner Downforce.

The opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden (1.35) sees O'Brien take the wraps off Land Force, which cost €350,000 as a yearling, and Moore can get his career off to flyer if he negotiates Mark Michael McNiff's Engles Rock.

There is also a six-race Jumps card at Ballinrobe this evening where Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy look to continue their hot streak with Pete So High in the Mulholland Bookmakers Handicap Hurdle (7.0). The pair can also score with Crezic in the McWilliam Park Hotel Maiden Hurdle (6.0).

∂ Irish Independent racing correspondent Michael Verney was in top form yesterday with his selections Balnaslow (11/2), We Have A Dream (2/1) and Getaway Katie Mai (15/8) scoring at Aintree, while Rooster Byron (5/1), Kemboy (5/4) and Tell Me Annie (30/100) obliged at Limerick.

Irish Independent

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