Saturday 21 April 2018

'Gatsby' to surprise O'Brien ace and confirm Weld uprising

Trainer Dermot Weld. Photo: Sportsfile
Trainer Dermot Weld. Photo: Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

The Group Three Ballyroan Stakes is the feature race at Leopardstown this evening and can serve as something of a challenge for horses on retrieval missions.

It is the refuge of horses on the up but not quite top-class and those which may have been top-class at one stage of their careers. The Grey Gatsby seems to be on the way down after once winning the Champion Stakes here, the 2017 renewal of which was launched in Dublin yesterday.

People will not believe that he is on the way back; nor will others take it as read that Dermot Weld has put his seasonal troubles behind him. Yet a strong end to Galway and a double on Tuesday would suggest that the Curragh maestor is on the way back and perhaps The Grey Gatsby is too.

He has Johannes Vermeer as the main threat in this contest sponsored by Grenke Finance. Aidan O'Brien's son of Galileo got his own career back on the rails with a Curragh win last time, but perhaps the fast ground and improved stable form can see The Grey Gatsby triumph.

The Nick Coen Lifetime In Racing Handicap could be another one for Pat Smullen, who rides Alton Bay for the in-form Peter Fahey. Likely 12 furlongs was a little sharp for the nine-year-old at Bellewstown, and he can give weight and a beating to Venezia, the price of which (14/1 in places) seemed a bit long last night.

Smullen has another strong chance in the form of Man Power in the opener on what does not seem an especially strong night for maidens at the track. Michael O'Callaghan's charge went close over the course and trip on debut.

Abyssinian came on from his debut effort to finish second at Killarney last time and he can take the concluding maiden.

Sligo raced last night over fences, this evening over the smaller obstacles, the feature being the €20,000 BoyleSports Handicap Hurdle. This appeals as a cracking opportunity for Ben Button, which hacked up at Galway on Sunday and, though reappearing quickly, it makes obvious sense given how well-in he is under a penalty.

Willie Mullins seems to have a nice horse in his hands in the seven-year-old, which will enjoy the ease in the ground, and may have most to fear from Hunters Call.

The Sligo card boasts pretty decent prize-money and perhaps Joseph O'Brien and JP McManus can keep up the fine work in the Adare Manor Opportunity Maiden Hurdle, sponsored by the legendary gambler, with Successor. He ran a fair race at Galway and seems to have much less to do now.

Irish Independent

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