Friday 16 November 2018

O'Brien eyes success Down Under while 'King' can take crown

Trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Sportsfile
Trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Another weekend, another Aidan O'Brien assault on a lucrative pot Down Under.

As he attempts to edge closer to breaking his Melbourne Cup duck on November 6, O'Brien (right) sends The Cliffsofmoher, better known here as Cliffs Of Moher, to post in this morning's Group One Caulfield Cup (6.40).

Last year's Irish Derby runner-up was fourth in a Caulfield Group One last week and continues his preparation for the race that stops the nation in the hands of Hugh Bowman - the regular pilot of wonder mare Winx.

This is no more than a mere warm-up, however, with €3.3 million up for grabs in this prestigious handicap where 17 stand in his way, but the Gailieo colt will take some beating and looks the class act in the field.

There's an abundance of quality this weekend and Leopardstown is a good starting point where Patrick Prendergast's Could Be King can shine in today's Group Three Killavullan Stakes (3.05).

Performed

The son of Bated Breath had performed well twice at Group level before picking up his maiden at Limerick last weekend, and there may be more to come from Colin Keane's mount on testing ground he will relish.

Willie Mullins can do no wrong on the Flat in recent months and top-rated Riven Light returns to these shores in the Listed Trigo Stakes (3.40) after finishing tailed-off in last month's Group One Korea Cup in Seoul.

This is an entirely different proposition, however, and he may be outdone by a younger rival.

There was a lot to like about how Aidan O'Brien's North Face stepped up on his Navan maiden to take the runner-up spot in a Listed event at Cork last weekend.

Seamie Heffernan's mount is open to massive improvement - as is Dermot Weld's Flavius - but preference is for O'Brien's charge.

All eyes will be on the Naas card tomorrow where Michael O'Callaghan's Recon Mission is the one to follow in the Birdcatcher Nursery (2.35) after his Listed Legacy Stakes second at Navan last Sunday.

There's €120,000 up for grabs in the Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Final (3.10) where Jessica Harrington's Dragon Roll is a speculative selection at big odds in a puzzler for punters.

Making Light disappointed in the Group Two Boomerang Stakes but Weld's four-year-old will take some stopping on ground she loves in the Listed Garnet Stakes (3.45), while Jim Bolger's Panstarr lost nothing in defeat last time out and is given the vote in the Listed Bluebell Stakes (5.20).

Elsewhere, Gordon Elliott ventures Stateside tonight with Galway Plate winner Clarcam (Jack Kennedy) and Jury Duty (Robbie Power) tackling the Grade One Grand National Hurdle Stakes in Far Hills.

The Meath trainer bids to leave New Jersey with the €380,000 pot but has some Irish opposition as rookie trainer Emmet Mullins eyes the biggest success of his career with Tornado Watch, the mount of his cousin David Mullins.

Kennedy makes a swift return to partner Sunsetstorise for Elliott in Cork's €50,000 coopsuperstores.ie Handicap Chase tomorrow but he may be outdone by younger stablemate Penny Jane, a recent Galway winner.

Irish Independent

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