Sunday 21 July 2019

Elliott and Russell can soar as O'Brien targets more Classic glory in US

Trainer Gordon Elliott. Photo: Barry Cregg / Sportsfile
Trainer Gordon Elliott. Photo: Barry Cregg / Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

The Bellewstown Summer Festival finishes with a flourish today as 16 runners chase the lucrative €50,000 prize in the Fast Shipping Bellewstown Handicap Hurdle (6.20).

Gordon Elliott has landed two of the four previous renewals and the trainer saddles a quartet of runners with Star Maker a particularly interesting challenger under Davy Russell.

Star Maker claimed a decent Killarney handicap hurdle in good style two months ago and while the five-year-old has shot up the weights, he is progressive and will take some stopping.

Another to note is John McConnell's Pearl Of The West. Having already kept good company over hurdles despite her tender years, she can make the frame after showing her rude health with a decent effort on the level at Listowel last month.

There's also plenty to get the teeth stuck into at Naas today where the feature of the day - the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Handicap (3.20) - can go the way of Zodiacus.

Tom McCourt's three-year-old never got going in a Listed event at Cork in May but should be able to dictate affairs from the front under in-form veteran Niall McCullagh, as he did when scoring effortlessly at the Kildare track in April.

Sabrina Fairchild is excused a sub-par display over course and distance last month having been short of room on a number of occasions and better is expected from Sarah Lynam's filly in the preceding Dooley Insurance Apprentice Handicap (2.45).

The daughter of Elnadim had no luck in running but looks far from exposed and the best is yet to come in the hands of crack apprentice Oisín Orr.

Aidan O'Brien's Empire State has been a beaten favourite on five of eight starts and is worth opposing in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Race (3.55) with Julia's Magic the most reliable alternative.

Drop The Dandy Man filly has been keeping good company with Denise Foster's four-year-old taking a big drop in class and Orr should be able to do the business in the saddle.

Meanwhile, O'Brien goes for more Classic glory across the Atlantic tonight with a team of four split between the Belmont Oaks (9.30) and Belmont Derby (10.44) in New York. The Ballydoyle maestro landed his first US Oaks 12 months ago with Athena and he bids for back-to-back wins with Wayne Lordan partnering Just Wonderful while Michael Hussey is in the plate on Coral Beach.

O'Brien is double-handed in the €900,000 US Derby - which he won three years ago - with Lordan on Cape Of Good Hope and Hussey atop Blenheim Palace.

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