Saturday 24 February 2018

Verrazano bids to give Ballydoyle shot in arm

Trainer Todd Pletcher
Trainer Todd Pletcher
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

AMERICAN import Verrazano will endeavour to spark Ballydoyle's relatively slow start to the Flat season into life on its European debut in tomorrow's JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

A dual Grade One winner Stateside for Todd Pletcher, the four-year-old suffered its first defeat in five starts when fading badly in the closing stages of last year's Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

The More Than Ready colt concluded its first campaign with a record of six wins from 10 runs, and trades at up to 5/1 to lower the colours of Richard Hannon's Olympic Glory, which is now as low as 10/11 to prevail for Frankie Dettori at Newbury.

Paul Deegan will saddle the progressive dual Group Three victor Sruthan in his quest to claim a first Group One win in a mile contest that only O'Brien's Hawk Wing (2003) has brought back to these shores since its upgrade to Group One status in 1995.

Champion jockey Joseph O'Brien is set to steer Verrazano for his father in the eight-runner affair.

Chris Hayes will continue his association with 20/1 shot Sruthan, and he will also be aboard Deegan's hat-trick-seeking Aussie Valentine in the London Gold Cup.

On Sunday, O'Brien has last year's St Leger hero Leading Light pencilled in for the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan.

Royal Diamond, which gave Johnny Murtagh a famous triumph on Champions Day at Ascot in the autumn, is another that could make its seasonal reappearance in the mile-and-six-furlong Group Three.

Jim Bolger, meanwhile, has suggested that his Derrinstown Stud trial fourth Answered could drop back to a mile for the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas on May 24 if the ground is soft, adding that the Irish Derby remains his unexposed colt's "big target".

At Perth yesterday, Hold Em Cowboy and Takeyourcapoff combined to secure second successive double at the picturesque Scottish venue for Gordon Elliott and Davy Condon to help the raiders plunder six of the seven races on the card.

Hold Em Cowboy (11/10 favourite) had cantered up over hurdles in the 7.35 on Wednesday, but showed no ill effects to run out a wide-margin winner over fences in yesterday's 3.25.

Colin McBratney's Quickasyoucan easily justified his odds-on status in the opening novices' hurdle for Brian Hughes, before AP McCoy galvanised Stuart Crawford's fellow 5/6 shot Man With Van to claim the novices' chase by a head from George's Kilbree Kid.

Sammy Wilson's Hurricane Ivan then readily justified being backed from 9/2 into 11/4 in the conditional jockeys' race for Jody McGarvey, before Condon got Takeyourcapoff (5/1) on top in the latter stages of the two-mile handicap hurdle.

In the bumper, 7lb claimer John Brennan completed the haul by driving Tony Martin's 10/11 favourite Blair Perrone home by a nose in a thrilling finish from Crawford's McCoy-ridden Okotoks.

Irish Independent

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