O'Brien's Fields Of Athenry won't lie low in feature at Leopardstown
On a Leopardstown spread that the Ballydoyle genius might well dominate, Aidan O'Brien is tipped to plunder the Ballyroan Stakes with his St Leger dark horse, Fields Of Athenry.
O'Brien has runners in six of the seven scheduled races, and a case could readily be made for him winning each of the sextet. The Ballyroan is the headline event, a Group Three that has a habit of throwing up sequences.
Kevin Prendergast won it in 2007 and 2008 with Mores Wells and Dermot Weld claimed it the four subsequent years with Profound Beauty (twice), Sense Of Purpose and Galileo's Choice. O'Brien now has a serious chance of securing it for a third year in a row with a horse that pulverised the opposition in a Listed race here over 14 furlongs last month.
Mick Halford's Certerach, which could never land a blow when beaten over 16 lengths on that occasion, re-opposes. The Jim Bolger-trained Morning Mix is a more unexposed sort that could step up, but Seamie Heffernan's mount should win.
A brave second to Botany Bay under a massive weight in the Ulster Derby, Fields Of Athenry demolished Silwana by 10 lengths here last time. The son of Galileo coped well with cut in the ground then, and this slight drop in trip to 12 furlongs isn't a great concern.
In the long-distance handicap that follows, O'Brien relies on another pretty exciting three-year-old. Ivanovich Gorbatov is a Montjeu colt that pulled away in decent style on his reappearance at Navan, with the runner-up Torcedor, the third Time To Inspire and the fifth My Twinkle all franking the form since. A first-time mark of 97 for Ivanovic Gorbatov doesn't look harsh.
The Crewmaster, a cracking second at Galway last week, is another expected to collect for O'Brien and his son Joseph, while Cenotaph might be one of their more opposable runners in the opening six-furlong handicap. The son of War Front is dropping in trip, having looked one-paced in three outings between seven and 10 furlongs this term. Under 10st, he is worth taking on, with Ishebayorgrey trusted to foil him.
Pat Martin's colt has been a revelation since April, winning four times and making the frame on three other occasions. Colin Keane's partner just clung on over seven at Dundalk last time, so he could collect again over this more suitable trip under a manageable six-pound penalty.
Sligo fell to the weather yesterday, but if today's card survives an 8.0am inspection, Ultimate Horseman has nap appeal in the maiden hurdle. Gordon Elliott's charge has been running well in defeat, and, as a soft-ground bumper winner, he should cope with the conditions.