Friday 14 December 2018

'Robin' can hit target for Dunlop in Newmarket prize

Trainer Harry Dunlop
Trainer Harry Dunlop

Thomas Kelly

Robin Of Navan can get the job done when he makes a rare outing on home shores in the Earl of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket.

Harry Dunlop's charge has appeared just four times in Britain during 21 career starts as his team has chased some fine financial rewards on foreign shores, most notably winning a Saint-Cloud Group One back in 2015 and a Group Three at Chantilly last summer.

His strike-rate has not been brilliant, but he rarely turns in a bad effort and he is never far away even in top company, although he was a bit found out on his final start of 2017 in Hong Kong.

That said, the five-year-old turned in a decent effort on his seasonal return on the Chantilly all-weather and will surely feel the benefit of that return run as he starts to get a bit older now.

Robin Of Navan has a bit to find on the bare figures with Deauville, but the ground should be in his favour and he may just have the racing edge this time.

Soliloquy can mark herself as a Classic contender with victory in the Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes.

She suffered a surprise defeat on her debut for Charlie Appleby at Newmarket last August, but soon righted the record with victory over a mile at Ascot the following month.

Her rider did not have to ask too many questions that day to win by half a length and while she skipped a couple of possible Group race options in the autumn, that at least indicates her team were thinking in those terms. Stepping back to seven furlongs isn't certain to suit, but the likely ease in the ground should make this more of a test.

Great Prospector can step up his return effort at Newcastle with victory in the bet365 European Free Handicap.

He found the Kentucky Derby-bound Gronkowski just under four lengths too good in the Burradon Stakes last month, but it was a promising run and he would not need to improve too much to be making his presence felt here.

Cheltenham hosts another top day of action and Traffic Fluide can take home a nice prize for Gary Moore in the Silver Trophy Chase.

At home, the O'Briens set punters a real puzzle in the three-year-old maiden at Dundalk, where the famous family are responsible for four of the five runners. Aidan O'Brien runs three Galileo colts, headed by last October's course third-placed El Greco, while Joseph and jockey Donnacha combine with Drapers Guild, which finished second on his previous course visit.

O'Brien Snr saddles Full Moon, a Derby entrant which returned to action with second at Navan last month, in the one-mile conditions event, while Joseph is represented by Downdraft, which opened his account with victory over seven furlongs here earlier in the year.

Ger Lyons unwraps Overcoming for the season, while Michael Halford is responsible for Andesh, which was beaten just a length by Mendelssohn on debut and has run well in all three starts since, winning once.

The in-form Highly Approved gets the vote to complete a four-timer for new trainer Shane Duffy in the six-furlong handicap.

Meanwhile, O'Brien's Giant's Causeway - affectionately known as the 'Iron Horse' - has died at the age of 21, Coolmore announced. The brilliant six-time Group One winner had been suffering from "a brief illness" at his Kentucky birthplace, Ashford Stud.

Giant's Causeway was never out of the first two in 13 career starts, and went unbeaten as a juvenile in 1999. As a three-year-old he rattled off five consecutive Group One triumphs - in the St James's Palace Stakes, the Coral-Eclipse, the Sussex Stakes, the Juddmonte International and the Irish Champion Stakes.

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