Thursday 22 March 2018

Sunlight can shine for Weld in Harriet

Jockey Pat Smullen speaks to trainer Dermot Weld
Jockey Pat Smullen speaks to trainer Dermot Weld
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen have conspired to take the last two editions of the Hurry Harriet Stakes at Gowran Park and Afternoon Sunlight is fancied to bring up the treble tonight.

The €55,000 Listed race promises to be a decent renewal, with Willie Mullins' Laviniad tasked with conceding weight all round following her Galway heroics. Despite originally hailing from Jim Bolger's, the Lawman five-year-old has been highly progressive for Mullins over the past year.

She is ground and trip versatile, so she is sure to give a good account of herself for Joseph O'Brien again now.

Paul Deegan's unexposed Corail, a half-length third in the Galway race, is among the dangers, likewise Bolger's Stellar Glow. Jessica Harrington's Ballybrit handicap winner Princess Aloof has a bit to find, while the John Oxx-trained My Titania is a former Group winner with scope to have a big say.

Easter, a close third in Group company at Cork, might be the pick of Aidan O'Brien's duo, but it is the Weld representative that has ticks in the most boxes.

A Group Three winner at Leopardstown last year, the Sea The Stars four-year-old has finished second in two subsequent outings at that level.

The most recent of those came on her seasonal bow when she was denied by the 100/1 shot Ramone at the Curragh, when Easter was among those further adrift.

Given that conditions were heavy, it was a fair effort in what was a pretty solid contest, reaffirming that she should be a force at this level.

Afternoon Sunlight will be happy on the forecast good ground tonight, and Weld has opted to apply a visor to sharpen her up. On the assumption that it will have the desired effect and that she will come on for her first outing, she should win for Smullen.

Weld relies on the first-time blinkered Sierra Sun in the €24,000 12-furlong handicap that follows.

Cailini Alainn, Askmour and Breenainthemycra are among an array of these with chances, but Macnicholson appeals most.

Jessica Harrington's six-year-old was running brilliantly in the Galway Hurdle only to be hampered by Thomas Edison's last-flight fall, so he is clearly in fine shape.

Prior to that, he had run second to Affinisea over this trip at Roscommon, which was the fourth time in a row that he made the frame on the Flat.

This evening, Macnicholson makes his handicap debut off a mark of 76 for just 8st 10lb. Given that he has a mark of 139 over flights, that is a rating that he can exploit, so should win for Fran Berry.

London, second to the classy Herald The Dawn at Naas nine days ago, will take a bit of stopping for Aidan and Joseph O'Brien in the opening juveniles' maiden, while Mick Halford's Ebayya gets the nap vote in the older females' equivalent at the other end of the card.

Shane Foley's Aga Khan-owned mount kept on stoutly to be second to Octavia on her return at Naas the same day. She steps up from a mile to most of 10 furlongs here, and that might be the key to her getting her head in front at the third time of asking.

Irish Independent

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