Wednesday 16 October 2019

Prendergast's Saakhen can hold off well-bred newcomers

Richard Forristal

A year after Dawn Approach spreadeagled his rivals in the six-furlong Fishery Lane Race, Jim Bolger relies on the debutant Club Wexford in the Naas conditions event.

With three other first-timers among the five-runner line-up, this year's edition doesn't look nearly as likely to prove so significant. Club Wexford's pedigree is nothing to get excited about, though his Ballydoyle counterpart, Fountain Of Youth, is by Oasis Dream and out of the high-class 2004 Irish 1,000 Guineas victor Attraction.

The presence of David Wachman's Henrythenavigator colt Sudirman means that there are two Coolmore-associated newcomers that between them raised in excess of €700,000 at the sales. Either could prove dangerous, but Saakhen did enough on its Curragh bow for Kevin Prendergast to warrant the nap vote here.

Beaten just a length by Fast In The Wind after getting no run, the son of Invincible Spirit flashed home with a real flourish on that occasion. The form of the race has been nicely franked by the runner-up Coach House hosing up at Tipperary, so it will be a surprise if Chris Hayes' Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned colt doesn't step up now.

There is an even more disappointing turnout for the €77,500 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Blue Wind Stakes, a Group Three that sees Dermot Weld's 2012 Royal Ascot heroine Princess Highway bid for back-to-back triumphs on her reappearance. Just three other inferior rivals will face the starter in the 10-furlong showpiece, with Princess Highway rated between nine and 32lbs superior to each of them.

The mount of Pat Smullen (left) has to concede weight all round, but not enough to warrant opposing such a classy individual.

The Woodlands 100 Club Premier Handicap is a far more competitive affair, as 18 vie for a €50,000 winner's purse. Preference is for last week's game Navan winner Katchy Lady. Patrick Prendergast's filly made all to see off Vinson Massif over five furlongs there, and she meets the same rival off identical terms now that she reverts to handicap company over a furlong further.

There is a good chance that she could prove favourably handicapped under Colm O'Donoghue.

Aidan and Joseph O'Brien might plunder both the three-year-old and upwards maidens with Lake Nova and Hanky Panky.

Irish Independent

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