Sharestan to prove a class apart for Oxx
With Johnny Murtagh suspended for the weekend, Niall McCullagh is the man tasked with steering the exciting Sharestan in tomorrow's 10-furlong conditions race at Fairyhouse.
John Oxx's Shamardal colt justified strong support to score in impressive fashion over a mile on his racecourse debut at The Curragh on Derby weekend, eventually going a couple of lengths clear of the field after taking time to find his stride. With that in mind, the extra two furlongs tomorrow ought to be to his advantage.
Just how good Sharestan might prove to be is impossible to gauge at this point, but he is clearly above average, and that should be enough here. His stablemate, Sinntani, a half-brother to Oxx's former top-class campaigner Sinndar, also deserves respect, but the Down Royal maiden winner may be a touch more limited.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained Freedom, which accounted for Thursday's Leopardstown victor Forever Glory when getting off the mark a day later than Sharestan at headquarters, may be the selection's biggest threat. Although beaten three times at two, he could still have room to progress further.
In the opener on the seven-race programme, David Wachman and Wayne Lordan are fancied to get their afternoon off to the perfect start with Gonebeyondthemoon. Again, the Ballydoyle representative Eagle Canyon is a danger here, but that one's submission late on at Naas on Wednesday doesn't instil confidence.
While Gonebeyondthemoon surrendered an even more decisive lead at Limerick last month, her form is more convincing, and it may be that a mile stretched the Danehill Dancer filly's stamina. Back over seven, she deserves the benefit of the doubt.
The most valuable race on the programme is the €26,000 Belgrave Stakes. Sprint regulars Duff, Santo Padre, Katla and Rock Jock should all feature prominently, but Rose Bonheur is preferred. Kevin Prendergast's filly sets the standard on recent form, and receives weight here from a number of her most serious rivals.
Over the sticks at Sligo, Par Five is taken to build on a promising run at Roscommon a month ago in the Guinness Handicap Hurdle.
Having achieved little in three starts last winter, JP McManus's five-year-old made its handicap debut that day, and went down as one to follow when keeping on for fifth behind Redera.
Elsewhere on the card, Davy Russell could be the man to keep on-side. The Youghal native has three spins, all of which are likely to take plenty beating.
In the Benbulben Maiden Hurdle, his mount In A Nutshell gets the nod to continue its steady improvement over flights, while the class of Tavern Times ought to prevail in the following novice hurdle. Similarly, Academy Rose, unlucky when a late faller in better company at Thurles in March, looks the part in the mares' maiden hurdle.