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Exhortation ready to deliver for Weld

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Dermot Welds. Photo: Getty Images

Dermot Welds. Photo: Getty Images

Dermot Welds. Photo: Getty Images

Exhortation is napped to land the seven-furlong maiden for Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen at Dundalk this evening.

The all-weather venue boasts some better-quality prospects tonight than it did for most of the winter, none more so than Weld's Khalid Abdullah-owned three-year-old.

When third on his Leopardstown bow in September, the Zamindar colt led until just before the final furlong in a race that was won by the potentially high-class Akeed Mofeed.

The runner-up, Athens, took a Listowel maiden subsequently, before he and Akeed Mofeed filled the minor places in the Beresford Stakes at the Curragh.

That represents a decent standard of form so, with first-time blinkers on now, Exhortation could take plenty of catching.

Flashy Falcon and Highwater Express are the dangers. Both were in the frame behind Penniston Lane recently, with Paul Deegan's Flashy Falcon nearly a length superior in third.

In the preceding maiden over a mile, Opa Loca and Sharalam bring a nice line of form to the table following Sharestan's Lincoln triumph on Sunday.

Sharalam, another Deegan representative, came home third in the Curragh maiden that was won by Sharestan last June.

However, the Eddie Lynam-trained Opa Loca was two lengths closer in second and is taken to come out on top again for the Dunshaughlin-based Dundalk supremo tonight.

While Chris Hayes does the steering on Opa Loca, Lynam teams up with his fellow winter all-weather title-winner Wayne Lordan in the opening two-year-old race.

Gathering Power, an encouraging fifth at the Curragh on Sunday, is the only one of the six runners in the five-furlong dash to have run.

If the Kyllachy filly improves at all for that experience, she ought to get Lynam's evening off to a flying start.

As ever, Smullen has a busy schedule, and Bold Thady Quill and Kanes Pass might oblige for him either side of Exhortation.

Ken Condon's Bold Thady Quill ought to have the required class for the claimer, while Willie McCreery's Kanes Pass, which tackles the six-furlong three-year-old handicap, has run well to be placed on both its starts this month.

Meanwhile, Shebella got up in the dying strides to claim victory by a neck in the fillies maiden at Limerick last night. Ahaaly made a bid for home over a furlong out when claiming front-runner Susiescot.

nursing

Johnny Murtagh, however, was only nursing the Aga Khan newcomer along and she picked up nicely after a few backhanders. "She was smart and professional," commented Murtagh before departing for Dubai where he has six engagements.

Bankroll bounded away in the closing stages of the seven-furlong handicap to land a gamble, having been backed in to 7/2 favourtie from 14/1 in the morning.

Wayne Lordan, who won the first race on Precious Dream, completed a double when taking the mile maiden on Croi An Or.

The well-backed Diplomat was soon sent into the lead by Pat Smullen, but he had no answer when claimed by Croi An Or a furlong out and the Windsor Knot colt stayed on best for a length-and-a-quarter victory.

Irish Independent