Sunday 22 April 2018

Swan aiming for Irish St Leger glory after rolling back years

Charlie Swan. Photo: Getty Images
Charlie Swan. Photo: Getty Images

Thomas Kelly

THIS is a big week for Charlie Swan. The former champion jump jockey comes out of retirement to ride at Doncaster this afternoon, and he looks for Classic glory at The Curragh on Saturday with Rajik in the Irish Field St Leger.

Rajik has had an excellent run, the five-year-old landing a competitive handicap at the Galway Festival before winning twice in Listed company.

Swan admits that his charge has much more on his plate as he takes the big jump up to Group One company this weekend, but he feels it is too good an opportunity to pass up.

"He's in such great form we might as well have a crack at it," he said. "I wouldn't be too worried about rain as he's run some good races on soft ground."

The Tipperary trainer travels across the Irish Sea today to roll back the years when he rides Miami Gator for Elaine Burke in the Legends Classified Stakes -- a charity race which sees the likes of Pat Eddery, John Francome and Graham Bradley return to the saddle. Champion jockey 10 years in a row between 1988 and 1998, Swan will be forever remembered for his association with Istabraq, winner of a hat-trick of Champion Hurdles at Cheltenham.

"He likes to be ridden positively, but it's a bit of fun and for a good cause. I ride out five lots every day, so I'd like to think I'm still fit," said Swan.

Meanwhile, Epsom Oaks disappointment Aviate has been supplemented for the Group Two Tote Blandford Stakes at The Curragh on Sunday.

Henry Cecil's filly would be taking a drop in trip after failing to stay when seventh in the Oaks at Epsom on her latest start, in which the Musidora winner lost her unbeaten record.

Aviate is one of eight overseas possibles along with Alsace Lorraine, Bikini Babe, Contredanse, Eleanora Duse, Gallic Star, High Heeled and Epsom Oaks runner-up Meeznah.

The home challenge is headed by Jim Bolger's Lush Lashes, Obama Rule, Precious Gem and She's Our Mark.

David Marnane has warned he will not risk either Dandy Boy or Santo Padre at The Curragh should there be plenty of cut in the ground. Santo Padre holds an entry in the Renaissance Stakes while Dandy Boy is in the Jack & Jill Solonaway Stakes.

However, the Tipperary trainer does have alternative engagements in England next week to both Group Three contests for the pair, should more rain fall before the weekend.

David Lanigan's Meeznah will face 11 rivals as she bids to open her Pattern-race account in the DFS Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster tomorrow.

Since impressing in a Newmarket maiden back in May, the three-year-old has a finished a neck second in the Oaks at Epsom, fourth in the Irish equivalent and a fine fourth in the Yorkshire Oaks.

The sole Irish participant is the John Oxx-trained Roses For The Lady and the rain that has fallen on Town Moor has given Oxx optimism.

"Any ease in the ground will help her chance," Oxx said.

Irish Independent

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