Wednesday 25 April 2018

Native Khan to deny Famous a perfect 10

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

FOR the first time since being beaten by Curtain Call at the Curragh more than three years ago, Famous Name might well meet his match in Group Three company at Leopardstown tonight.

Dermot Weld's redoubtable seven-year-old faces five rivals in his bid for a third successive triumph in the Jockey Club of Turkey Meld Stakes, and victory would bring his unbeaten run at this level to a perfect 10.

Truth be told, he is again likely to be far superior to four of his opponents, but Native Khan has the potential to cause an upset if the ground isn't too testing.

Winner of the Craven Stakes and third to Frankel in the 2,000 Guineas last year, the grey son of Azamour was beaten by just a couple of lengths when fifth in the Epsom Derby, before failing to run his race in the Curragh equivalent.

Since then, he has switched to John Oxx's care, making a fine debut when third to Famous Name in bottomless going on Derby weekend.

Johnny Murtagh looked after Native Khan once Famous Name asserted on that occasion, but the four-year-old travelled well and kept going nicely on his first start for 12 months.

He will strip fitter now and, while he would undoubtedly be happier on quicker ground, it is surely significant that Oxx is willing to let him tackle the Khalid Abdullah-owned favourite again.

Oxx and Murtagh are also responsible for the nap choice Shelford in the Dublin Horse Show Handicap.

With the jockeys' championship hotting up, Pat Smullen has abandoned Weld's Universal Truth here for the better-fancied Donatis Comet, which finished second over course and distance for the in-form Pat Martin two weeks ago.

Shelford is preferred, though, as being much less exposed. When obliging over 12 furlongs here on his second ever start at the same meeting, he had Dougal Philps and Chamonix -- both facile winners since -- behind in second and sixth, respectively.

He stretched readily clear that day, so an extra two furlongs should suit now, and the handicapper's judgment of 88 looks fair.

Ballydoyle's I Have A Dream, likewise a three-year-old maiden winner at Bellewstown last time, has more on his plate off 92 for 9st 11lb.

However, Aidan and Joseph O'Brien have strong claims courtesy of Afonso De Sousa in the opening juvenile maiden and Buckingham Gate in the concluding three-year-old edition, the last-named colt having finished third behind Shelford last time.

On a more mundane jumps card at Limerick, the David Casey-ridden Baily Green is the most exciting prospect on duty. Mouse Morris' bold jumper has found his form this summer, and should be too strong in the novice chase provided the ground doesn't deteriorate too much.

Earlier, Tom Taaffe's Uponthe Hoof, owned by Lee Westwood and his agent Chubby Chandler, gets the nod in the maiden hurdle under Barry Geraghty. Just denied at Wexford, he should be better suited by this more galloping track.

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport