Fallon out to scupper rivals on Sea Lord
Six-time British champion jockey Kieren Fallon, who completed a hat-trick of Irish Champion Stakes victories on his subsequent 'Arc' hero Dylan Thomas in 2007, bids to extend his fine strike rate in the Leopardstown showpiece on Saturday.
The controversial Clare native, having survived all manner of setbacks during his much-publicised career, returns to the Dublin course this weekend to link up with the supplemented Sea Lord brimful of confidence after a particularly successful Ebor Festival in York.
"I was obviously delighted with the way things worked out in York and it's great to be back riding for Michael Stoute again," he remarked as he looked forward to Mark Johnston's multiple scorer tackling Group One company for the first time.
They made all the running to defeat Godolphin's smart Poet's Voice in the Group Three Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury, after which Fallon advised Scots-born Yorkshire trainer Johnston that he felt the Cape Cross colt could be equally effective over a mile and a quarter.
That theory will be put to the ultimate test on Saturday against the cream of the current Ballydoyle crop of older horses as well as Henry Cecil's stable star Twice Over, which is generally expected to renew rivalry with his York conqueror Rip Van Winkle.
Whether the same pace-forcing tactics that worked a treat over a mile at Salisbury will be utilised on this occasion remains to be seen, but there's little doubt that the in-form Fallon is very much at home at Leopardstown.
A Goodwood treble last Saturday, in each instance by a short head, underlined again that Fallon's sense of timing remains spot on and he invariably tends to ask his mounts for the minimum required in any given race with an eye to their future well-being.
We saw ample evidence of that during his association with Aidan O'Brien, both when capturing the Tattersalls promotion on Oratorio in 2005 and 12 months later when Dylan Thomas edged out Ouija Board.
Even if Sea Lord comes up short when attempting to justify his €75,000 supplementary fee this time, it should be well worth watching Fallon's modus operandi closely and, if he happens to pick up a couple of spare rides, it could pay dividends to take heed.
Fast ground suits Sea Lord well and the likelihood is that those conditions will apply on Saturday as, with no rain forecast, the official going description from the Foxrock venue yesterday was good to firm, firm in places.
Watering has been ongoing there since last Saturday to ensure a safe surface, and the same applies to Clonmel, where the domestic action resumes with a modest mixed card later today before which the track will be aerated.
A year ago this fixture was abandoned due to waterlogging and this evening's action could be rewarding for the Willie Mullins yard as Phantasy Rock goes for a hat-trick in the Slievenamon Handicap and Anderson Mcauley tries to recoup Kilbeggan losses in the bumper.
Cork teenager Eddie Linehan gets on particularly well with Phantasy Rock and they should manage to defy a mandatory 5lb penalty for last Friday's narrow Wexford victory over Green To Gold when dropping back in trip now.
The three National Hunt races that complete the evening's schedule refer to Sunday's All-Ireland hurling final and it could be a portent of things to come if Willie and Patrick Mullins from Kilkenny land the Best Of Luck To Tipperary Flat Race with Anderson Mcauley.
Tipperary-based trainers David Wachman and David Marnane saddle likely successful favourites Echoes Of History and Maal in the opening events and an 11lb hike in the ratings might not prevent Pat Flynn's Waydownsouth augmenting last month's Killarney victory in the Premier County Handicap.
Paddy Power and Cheltenham, meanwhile, announced an extension to 2012 of the firm's sponsorship of their three-day Open meeting in mid-November, making it a decade of the leading Irish bookmaker's backing for a gathering that regularly attracts 70,000 spectators and features the Paddy Power Gold Cup.