Friday 13 December 2019

O'Brien's Lady may be in luck as Curragh welcomes Big star

Richard Forristal

Tomorrow sees the first turf meeting of the 2010 Flat season take place at the Curragh, with Colm Murphy's newly crowned champion chaser Big Zeb scheduled to put in an appearance at headquarters.

The star of this week's Irish contingent at Cheltenham will parade before the third race, while punters can also enjoy getting a sneak preview of how the Ballydoyle big guns are taking shape. Aidan O'Brien is expected to bring a large team of horses to the Kildare track to gallop after racing, though he will first saddle 10 runners on the seven-race card. In the Group Three Lodge Park Stud EBF Park Express Stakes, the Wexford native sends out two three-year-olds, Devoted To You and Lady Lupus.

Jim Bolger is represented by the only other filly of the Classic generation, Akdarena, in a race that has gone the way of that age group in five of the last six years. Of the remaining six older horses, the English raider Danehill's Pearl is interesting.

Tom Dascombe's four-year-old was twice a winner in her debut season last year, and will enjoy the yielding going. That said, the Ballydoyle fillies are potentially useful, with Lady Lupus could be the pick. A slow starter as a juvenile, this daughter of High Chaparral progressed with each of her four starts, culminating in a Listed success over course and distance in October. Under O'Brien's son, Joseph, Lady Lupus should be hard to beat.

The first premier handicap of the new campaign, the Tote Sports Lounge Irish Lincolnshire, follows that Group Three. Typically competitive with 22 runners, the €40,300 prize looks a minefield for punters.

Dermot Weld sends out a pair of smart five-year-olds, with Designated Decoy the choice of Pat Smullen. Third in the race 12 months ago, the Danzig gelding undoubtedly has its chance again, but just preferred for the win is Motafaany. Kevin Prendergast's charge was two places adrift of Designated Decoy last year, and was unlucky not to subsequently win. With an able 10lb claimer up, Motafaany is well in.

In the Go Racing In Kildare Maiden, Prendergast's Dance Hall Girl and Bolger's Majestic Dancer take the eye. The latter, a head runner-up to Elusive Galaxy -- which went on to be placed at Group level -- on its only start at Leopardstown in June, might have a touch of class.

A six-furlong handicap follows that maiden, with Tommy Stack's Zorija Rose one of the more experienced. This, though, could go the way of Zaralanta.

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