Wednesday 17 January 2018

O'Brien to Light Leger spark

Jim Bolger (L): Curragh chances. Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
Jim Bolger (L): Curragh chances. Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Aisling Crowe

Ascot Gold Cup winner Leading Light is the star attraction this afternoon at the Curragh, on a card billed as a trial for Irish Champions’ Weekend.

Aidan O’Brien’s four-year-old heads the weights in the Group Three Palmerston Estate Irish St Leger Trial Stakes.

Last year’s St Leger winner has beaten Royal Diamond twice this year and should have no problem conceding weight to the 2012 Irish St Leger winner, while the John Oxx-trained Streetcar To Stars is the sole three-year-old in the field.

O’Brien runs two in the other Group Three, the Kilfrush Stud Royal Whip Stakes. Kingsbarns and the Jim Bolger-trained Parish Hall are the two highest rated horses in the race and both have been unable to build on juvenile season Group One success because of injuries. Parish Hall put in the best performance of his post-injury career over course and distance last time out and the likely good ground will be more in his favour than Kingsbarns, which disappointed in his only start so far this season.

The brace of juvenile Group Two races should provide some interesting pointers towards the end-of-season Group Ones.

The field for the Debutante Stakes is headed by the Kevin Prendergast-trained Beach Belle.

The daughter of Beach Bunny finished ahead of I Am Beautiful in the National Stakes here a fortnight ago and her run that day shaped as if a step up in trip would suit her as she ran on again inside the final furlong.

Jim Bolger pitched Lucida in against the colts for her debut at Naas earlier this month and she looked impressive in making a winning debut.

Bolger has her as his sole entry in the Cheveley Park Stakes, a measure of the regard the shrewd trainer has for the filly.

Five last-time-out winners compete for the Galileo EBF Futurity Stakes, with Itorio the only one of the field not successful on his latest start.

The Ger Lyons-trained Convergence had the benefit of experience when he beat Gleneagles in a Curragh maiden at the start of June, but Aidan O’Brien’s colt has turned the tables on him since.

A course-and-distance winner and full brother to this year’s Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Marvellous, Gleneagles appears to be the pick of the Ballydoyle juvenile crop seen on the track this year.

Hall Of Fame burst John F Kennedy’s bubble last time out, but Jim Bolger’s full brother to Parish Hall isn’t the stable’s first string. That honour goes to Parish Boy, but he finished behind Convergence and Gleneagles in that Curragh maiden and will need to improve on his Naas victory to win.

Sunday Independent

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