Outsider to note
Joe Fanning's mount appeals as an each-way option at double-figure odds in the Toteplacepot Handicap at Ayr tomorrow. Barnstorm hasn't looked the most progressive in seven career outings since making his debut in April, but Mark Johnston wouldn't persist with Sheikh Hamdan's three-year-old if he didn't think he had a race in him.
This could be his chance. A keen type, Barnstorm's two most recent runs were better than they appear at first glance. At Hamilton at the beginning of June, the stiff track found him out over a mile after he took a strong hold, while his chance was gone before the gates ever opened at Chester most recently.
Drawn widest of all around the notoriously draw-biased track, he recovered well to be thereabouts turning in, before the eighth furlong found him out once again. Tomorrow, from a favourable inside draw, he reverts to seven furlongs. With blinkers applied for a first time, he could take a bit of catching.
Market Rasen 3.50 -- Watch Out
Market Rasen 4.20 -- Viper
Ayr 2.40 -- Barnstorm
Bellewstown 3.55 -- Battlefront
€388,657 -- The year-on-year drop in bookies' turnover at the Curragh on Irish Derby day.
250 -- The number of British meetings due to be lost in 2011 due to lack of funding.
10 -- Paul Carberry's current lead, over his sister Nina, at the top of the Bellewstown jockeys' table. His tally stands at 15, and he will have 10 opportunities over the weekend to add to it.
Quote of the week
"Johnny always makes his own mind up. At this stage he might go with what I say, but he always makes his own mind up."
-- Echoes of Brian Clough as Aidan O'Brien explains how Johnny Murtagh 'chose' Cape Blanco over Midas Touch in the Irish Derby.
Three things we learnt
1 Lester Piggott's observations are as crisp as ever. Piggott took up temporary residence in the press room at the Curragh on Sunday. He owned a filly that was making its debut at Windsor at 3.05, and the Irish Derby was scheduled for 3.10, so he pulled up a chair in front of the TV monitor. In all, the fit-looking 75-year-old probably spent 20 minutes in our midst. His mumblings never rose above audible to the room at large, except once, just before the Derby. Like a prophet come down among his flock, he spoke just six clear words: "I think Cape Blanco will win."
2The ease with which Mark Johnston's raiders secured two of the three Irish handicaps on Sunday was alarming. The reason for the disparity may be straightforward. Take Johnston's first winner, Sea Lord, which went up just nine pounds for two handicap wins in May and June. Then consider Jim Bolger's Scandal Sheet, which he beat into second. The Galileo filly got 14lbs for winning a handicap in September 2008, failed to win again before Sunday, yet dropped just six pounds in the interim.
3 HRI may have a job to secure a future for the National Lottery Sweepstakes Race. A fantastic initiative, less than half of the target 200,000 tickets were sold, yielding under €2m in sales. With €2.1m guaranteed for the 25 race particip-ants and 175 other secondary winners, the sorry take-up could prove fatal.
Monday: Roscommon*, Bath, Newton Abbot, Ripon*, Windsor*
Tuesday: Roscommon*, Pontefract, Southwell* (AW), Uttoxeter*, Wolverhampton (AW)
Wednesday: Naas*, Catterick, Kempton* (AW), Lingfield, Newmarket, Worcester*
Thursday: Leopardstown*, Doncaster*, Epsom*, Folkestone, Newmarket, Warwick
Friday: Cork*, Gowran Park*, Ascot, Chepstow*, Chester*, Newbury*, Newmarket, York
Saturday: Fairyhouse*, Ascot, Chester, Hamilton*, Nottingham, Salisbury*, York
Sunday: Tipperary, Sligo, Perth, Southwell, Stratford