Sunday 18 March 2018

No doubting Gan Amhras can spoil Fame's return

Damien McElroy

The Ballydoyle battalions are poised for a belated seasonal lift-off at the Curragh tomorrow when last season's Group One winners Fame And Glory and Alfred Nobel lead them into the fray.

Already proven at headquarte rs on a testing surface, the Irish Derby and Phoenix Stakes victors resume in the Alleged Stakes and the Loughbrown Stakes which launch the new Tote Sports Lounge here. While last year's surprise scorer Baron De'l and She's Our Mark invariably perform well at this venue, on current ratings they should not pose quite the same threat to Fame And Glory as Gan Amhras.

Jim Bolger's 117-rated colt might not be as effective in the soft as the top weight which was unable, however, to challenge Twice Over last October at Newmarket in the English Champion Stakes. That might have been one run too many though for Johnny Murtagh's mount after giving vain chase to Sea The Stars at both Leopardstown and Longchamp. This looks a Listed race well within his grasp.

The same observation applies to Alfred Nobel in the Loughbrown Stakes despite a busy initial campaign that ended with an eight-length defeat behind Vale Of York at the Breeders Cup jamboree in California.

The 7lb penalty should not prove beyond Alfred Nobel's capabilities when opposing Song Of My Heart and Keredari whose stablemate Rayeni could reverse November's Leopardstown placings with Libano in the Gladness Stakes.

Meanwhile, National Hunt fans can look forward to a decent card at Limerick tomorrow that includes Fairyhouse casualties Jagoes Mills and Across The Bay seeking quick compensation at Grade Two level.

Jagoes Mills and Across The Bay, which were surprise early fallers in the Powers Gold Cup and the Irish Grand National, clash as presumed market principals for the Hugh McMahon Memorial Novice Chase.

The current testing ground won't bother either of these normally safe jumpers as they attempt now to give weight and a beating to course winner Inistioge and another useful mare Cara Mara.

While Across The Bay only lost out narrowly to subsequent Powers Gold Cup hero Jadanli at Navan over this three-mile trip, Jagoes Mills might have the edge in finishing pace unless there's a breakneck gallop.

Davy Russell, who partners Jagoes Mills once more, could likewise have the answer to the earlier Meteor Mobile Novice Hurdle when switching to the familiar Michael O'Leary colours aboard Stonemaster.

Edward O'Grady has wisely given Judge Roy Bean a rest since losing his early-season sparkle in the depths of winter and this 134-rated horse should make his presence felt at this level.

Cork's unrelated Eoghan O'Grady will be hopeful also of consistent stable star The Book Thief mounting a bold bid for further honours, though personal preference is for Stonemaster which was putting in sterling late work when taking second money at Naas behind Whodoyouthink.

Judge Roy Bean's stable companion Guzzle An Go may emerge as the chief threat to another course and distance heroine Killultagh Queen in the Students Raceday April 13th Hurdle confined to mares.

Having given Killarney owner- breeder Donie Sheahan's multiple scorer For Bill a decent test at Clonmel in early February, Killultagh Queen deserves to start favourite and will probably come good again.

Irish Independent

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