Tuesday 16 January 2018

St Nicholas Abbey to shine bright

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

ST NICHOLAS ABBEY, one of the most talked about horses of the 2010 Flat campaign, is the star attraction on a busy day at The Curragh tomorrow.

Hugely impressive in maintaining an unbeaten run on stepping up to Group One level in the autumn of 2009, the son of Montjeu failed to land a blow when sixth on his seasonal reappearance in the English 2,000 Guineas 11 months ago.

Despite continuing in training for the remainder of the campaign, various problems kept Aidan O'Brien's colt off the track thereafter, so his presence in the Geegeez.co.uk Alleged Stakes should now shine some light on just how much of his massive potential he retains.

Having been the main Derby hope at Ballydoyle prior to being ruled out of the race at the 11th hour last June, the step up to 10 furlongs tomorrow ought to be to the four-year-old's advantage, and the slow ground should also suit.

Among the seven rivals St Nicholas Abbey faces is the Triumph Hurdle runner-up Unaccompanied, though Dermot Weld's filly, along with the rest of the field, is unlikely to have the class to cope with Seamie Heffernan's mount if he is anywhere near the top of his game.

Weld, who also saddles Galileo's Choice in that Listed race, has plenty of other chances on the eight-race programme.

In the Big Bad Bob Gladness Stakes, which has a €39,000 winner's prize, the Curragh handler's Emulous is fancied to cause an upset.

The seven-furlong Group Three looks immensely competitive, with Dandy Nicholls' dual Group One winner Regal Parade a real threat to the home defence. However, that one has never been at its best first time out.

Lolly For Dolly, Luisant and Youm Mutamiez are others to consider, but Emulous gets the vote on the basis that she is unexposed.

While the Dansili filly took time to find her feet last term, she progressed well to win a Group Three and a Listed race in October, and she could continue to improve.

Lolly For Dolly's trainer Tommy Stack is another with a strong hand on the day. The Tipperary-based operator saddles three runners in all, with Rahya Cass particularly interesting in the six-furlong handicap.

During a stint in England last year, Rahya Cass struggled badly. However, she immediately showed improved form on her return to Stack's, taking third off a mark of 80 at Dundalk in December.

Off a four-pound lower mark here, and with Shane Gray taking 10lbs off, she ought to go close.

In the preceding Listed race, Glor Na Mara can finally lose his maiden status now that he competes outside of Group company, while Joseph O'Brien might get on the score sheet with Marksmanship, his only mount of the day in the 10-furlong maiden.

Tomorrow also sees the final of the Rockview bumper series at headquarters.

Willie Mullins' Gigginstown Stud-owned Samain is undoubtedly the horse to beat, but he must concede weight to numerous able sorts here, and Mart Lane may be able to take advantage of a 10lb concession.

Irish Independent

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