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O'Brien's Wild Wind to blow rivals away

A FIELD of eight is set to go to post for a sizeable €39,000 winner's pot in the feature event on a busy Flat card at Gowran Park tomorrow.

Among the octet in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Victor McCalmount Memorial Stakes is Banimpire, a surprise victor of the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown three weeks ago. Jim Bolger's three-year-old is clearly a smart prospect, but she had the advantage of race-fitness over her closest pursuers at Leopardstown, so may be worth opposing now under a penalty.

The John Oxx-trained Kirinda, which beat Empowering in a maiden last year before finishing third to Siren's Song at Navan a fortnight ago, will strip fitter now, and a similar comment applies to Wild Wind.

Highly tried last term, the Ballydoyle filly was second to Empowering in Leopardstown's 1,000 Guineas trial in March.

That day, the winner collected under an enterprising ride from the front, as Wild Wind flashed home to be an eye-catching second. On a strict line through Empowering, Kirinda is the horse to beat, but Wild Wind is just preferred on the basis that she may be better than the bare form of her Leopardstown effort suggests.

Aidan O'Brien is also fancied to land the opening juvenile maiden as well as the Tote Classic Trial. Raphael Santi, which finished a length in front of last week's facile Cork winner Requinto when second at the Dublin venue recently, should have little trouble in the juvenile race.

High Ruler faces a trickier assignment in the nine-furlong trial. Adilapour, Banksters Bonus and Defining Year are all capable sorts, but Seamie Heffernan's mount earned valuable experience at the highest level as a juvenile, so that will stand to him now.

The forecast fast ground is expected to suit When Not Iff in the seven-furlong fillies' handicap, while the disappointing Elusive Award can take advantage of a drop in class in the 5.10. Sixth at Cork on Saturday, Andrew Oliver's charge may be aided by the reapplication of blinkers.

They also race over the sticks at Sligo tomorrow. On a low-key card, Run For Sol, a half-sister to Baby Run, is the nap of the day in the Kennedy's Bar Hurdle.

Willie Mullins' Maid From Milan, absent since scoring on its hurdling debut at Tramore a year ago, returns here, but the weights are framed in favour of Run For Sol. Davy Russell's mount, second in slow ground at Limerick last time, receives between five and 15 pounds from each of her five rivals, and she may enjoy the better going.

The title-chasing Russell will also be hard to beat on Domination in the novice hurdle, but Paul Townend could pull one back on Riltree in the Smirnoff Mares' Maiden Hurdle.

Although that one has failed to win in five attempts so far, she has run well in defeat, and is another that may benefit from the better ground.

Irish Independent