Thursday 23 November 2017

Oxx's Alanza to confirm her promise

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Last September's extraordinary Listowel winner Alanza is fancied to land the nap selection on just her second racecourse appearance at Leopardstown this evening.

John Oxx's daughter of Dubai Destination faces mainly more experienced rivals in the opening seven-runner fillies' race. Take Flight, impressive at Sandown on the last of three starts for Jeremy Noseda last year, makes its debut for the David Wachman stable, while Marvada has been in good heart for Ken Condon this term.

Alanza, though, is the one with the most potential. When Fran Berry won on her as a juvenile nine months ago, she came from a hopeless position to quicken up and win. Granted, that wasn't a great race, but it was a remarkable performance, so it will be disappointing if she doesn't confirm her potential now.

The most valuable prize on the card is the €24,375 Golden Fleece Stakes. A seven-furlong juvenile Listed event that went the way of Zoffany 12 months ago, this year's renewal features just two previous scorers, Whip Rule and Snowflake Dancer.

Both are trained by Jim Bolger, with Whip Rule fancied to come out on top here. Ronan Whelan's mount beat the very smart Tough As Nails on its debut, before going down by a couple of lengths to Choir when third at Naas.

Given that Whip Rule conceded weight to the two horses that finished in front of him that day, this could be more straightforward. Whelan, who cannot utilise his seven-pound claim in the pattern race, also partners Bolger's Tiffilia in the fillies' maiden.

As ever with a Bolger two-year-old, the market should prove an accurate guide to the debutante's chance. Of the three runners that have experience, Jemima's Pearl gets the nod for Ger Lyons.

On her first start at The Curragh, this one warmed to her task when keeping on for third behind Vault. If Jemima's Pearl can build on that, she ought to be hard to beat.

Later on, Tom McCourt's Copper Dock has plenty going for him in the Cathy Davey Handicap. In two runs over five and six furlongs this term, the seven-year-old has not been beaten far, so the step up to seven may suit Ben Curtis' partner.

The concluding RSM Farrell Grant Sparks Maiden is confined to amateur riders, and Katie Walsh could be the one to side with here on the Willie Mullins-trained Johnny McGeeney. It will be interesting to see how the Aintree bumper winner Steps To Freedom fares after switching from the care of Gordon Elliott to Jessica Harrington, but Johnny McGeeney's third in a similar contest at Tramore doesn't read badly.

Irish Independent

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