Johnny Ward: Condon filly can take home Sweet prize
Mamba Noire to further bolster young trainer's reputation
It is a relatively quiet weekend on the English racing front, with two Group Threes the height of the action for terrestrial TV fans this afternoon.
It is a good day for County Cork native Ken Condon to showcase his skills and those of Mamba Noire, which has solid each-way claims in Newmarket's german-thoroughbred.com Sweet Solera.
Mamba Noire is by Wootton Bassett, a sire rarely relevant in these parts but which shot to public prominence last year due to Almanzor winning the Irish Champion Stakes. Mamba Noire is another talented offspring and stepping up in trip could suit her.
Condon said: "It looks like getting seven furlongs is the imponderable but it will suit if her style of running is a guide: she has been finishing her races strongly.
"The form of her third in the Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes is very strong," he added and - considering she was third to Clemmie and Nyaleti then - this represents a drop in class. "She was busy up until then and needed her break since," Condon said.
The main fare is at Ascot, where the first is the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Dash. The Shergar Cup competition among the jockeys necessitates ten-runner fields.
It was not a good week for Dean Ivory, left very embarrassed after a member of his staff was found to have caused one of his horses to fail a dope test by urinating in its stable recently. Perhaps Tropics, which seems to be coming to hand, can provide him some cheer.
If Berrahi can last it out over the distance under Jamie Spencer, he may have too much toe in the staying event, while Niblawi's credentials later are solid. The Vale Of York gelding stayed at it all the way to the line at Ascot and he has strong claims, despite a 5lb hike.
The Mile race is intriguing. Perhaps Leader Writer can react favourably in cheekpieces for Henry Spiller, and the Pivotal-bred will be fine on the easy terrain.
The 'Classic' sees Aussie ace Kerrin McEvoy, a superb rider who had a long stint in Britain before returning to Australia, steer likely favourite Contango. He has a lot more on here off 10lb higher after a Newmarket rout against two rivals but he is progressing nicely under Andrew Balding's tutelage and looks up to the task.
Ascot's televised action concludes with the sprint, and Tim Easterby has another Pivotal-bred in Golden Apollo, which has been admirably progressive. Though his run came unstuck at Newmarket, he is in calmer waters here.
Today's other Group Three is the Betfred Rose Of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock, in which Laraaib bids to continue his sequence of wins. There looks to be a bit of value here in opposing the Owen Burrows steed with Richard Hannon's Euginio, which was a head winner at Sandown and is a typically reliable son of Fastnet Rock.
Before that, we have the Ladies' Trophy handicap for amateur riders. A fascinating runner here is well-known hurdler Zubayr, representing Paul Nicholls and his daughter Megan. She rides well and he will probably enjoy reverting to Turf after a couple of spins at Kempton.
There may be some light controversy in the media this week about women playing rugby. In racing, nobody cares about women competing as long as they can train or ride, and in the case of Megan Nicholls, she certainly can.