Wednesday 21 February 2018

Lynam's Fort Del Oro fancied to keep Ballyogan spoils at home

Jimmy Fortune riding Tullius win The Investec Diomed Stakes at Epsom yesterday. Photo credit: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Jimmy Fortune riding Tullius win The Investec Diomed Stakes at Epsom yesterday. Photo credit: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Just as attention will turn to the Derby at Epsom, runners will be breaking from the stalls for the first race on a decent spread at the Curragh.

At the same time, those on duty at Tramore will be busy preparing for the bumper.

Scheduling two races 10 minutes either side of one of the most significant Flat races run in the world this year doesn't seem the most sensible piece of planning, especially in relation to the opener at headquarters, given Irish racing's propensity for delayed starts.

Nonetheless, on a busy Bank Holiday weekend that sees eight fixtures take place over four days, the most valuable prize on offer is the €63,000 up for grabs in the TRM Ballyogan Stakes at the Curragh.

A field of nine looks set to go to post for the six-furlong Group Three, with Divine, Fine Blend and Marsha all making the journey from England.

Each has its chance, but the €37,170 prize for first place is expected to stay at home courtesy of Fort Del Oro. Eddie Lynam's four-year-old filly confirmed her promise when winning in Listed company at Naas on her return, but she then failed to build on that in a Curragh Group Two.

However, it is possible that she simply couldn't distinguish herself on soft ground that day.

Either way, the hitherto progressive Fort Del Oro is certainly entitled to an off-day, so she is fancied to make amends under Billy Lee now.

In the Listed TRI Equestrian Stakes that follows, Sir Isaac Newton will probably start favourite for Aidan O'Brien and Emmet McNamara.

The Dundalk runner-up is the clear pick on ratings, but a chance is taken on Ger Lyons' Chemical Charge.

This Qatar Racing-owned Sea The Stars colt looked a lovely prospect when winning both of its starts as a juvenile for Ralph Beckett in 2014.

He missed last year, but a Royal Ascot entry in the Hardwicke Stakes is an indication of how well he is regarded. Winning here after 567 days off won't be easy, but Chemical Charge might just have the required quality under Colin Keane.

Penny Pepper gets the nod to take the six-furlong handicap for Kevin Prendergast and Gary Halpin, while the Irish 2,000 Guineas-winning handler is also trusted with the day's nap selection.

That distinction falls to Mutadaffeq in the concluding 12-furlong maiden. Chris Hayes's three-year-old mount ran just once last year, catching the eye when keeping on late here to be a close third behind Restive over a mile.

Mutadaffeq needs to turn the tables on the runner-up Stellar Mass here, but he has the scope to do so against that more exposed rival.

At Tramore, Henry De Bromhead has three runners and each is fancied to take a bit of beating.

Philip Enright can guide Crown Hill to victory in a modest maiden hurdle, and Davy Russell should go close aboard the stable's Simiel and Three Stars in their respective heats.

Irish Independent

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