Monday 19 February 2018

Vote Often can be first past the post to start party for Weld

Vote Often can deliver the goods for Dermot Weld at the Curragh. Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post
Vote Often can deliver the goods for Dermot Weld at the Curragh. Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

My Titania's seasonal debut could be delayed again with the prospect of rain-softened ground threatening to rule her out of tomorrow's Etihad Airways Irish 1,000 Guineas.

John Oxx's classy daughter of the stable's exceptional colt Sea The Stars missed the Newmarket version following a setback.

She has vied for favouritism with the Newmarket runner-up Lightening Thunder for the Curragh Classic all week, but considerable rainfall hit the region yesterday, and Oxx sounded a note of caution about his filly's participation.

"I wouldn't advise anybody to back her at this stage as, if the ground is soft or even yielding to soft, we probably won't run," the local handler stated of My Titania.

"You'd have to say the odds are against her even if she does run. She'll be taking on fillies who have had a run on ground that won't be ideal for her. She has won a Group Three, but she's unproven at Group One level and she's going to need to step up."

Beaten on her Leopardstown track bow before winning a pair of Group Threes at the Dublin track and then at headquarters, My Titania is a fascinating prospect.

Still, she will need to be every bit as good as she looked as a juvenile if she is to figure prominently in the mile feature, as Lightning Thunder, which is trained rising star Olly Stevens, sets a fair standard.

Harry Bentley's mount should come on for her seasonal bow, so she is deserving of her position at the head of the market. Marco Botti's Al Thakira beat Lightning Thunder at Newmarket in the autumn.

She will line out here under Richard Hughes having been just denied on her comeback at Newbury before being outclassed in the French 1,000 Guineas.

Like many of these, both have form with a cut in the ground, though it remains to be seen how they might cope if conditions get very slow.


Palace (Joseph O'Brien), Marvellous (Ryan Moore) and Wonderfully (Seamie Heffernan) will represent Aidan O'Brien, but it might be that Dermot Weld holds the most potent hand in the shape of aptly-named Vote Often.

Weld's horses have been in rare form since the season got under way, and he saddles a second Khalid Abdullah-owned filly here in the unbeaten Tested, which Pat Smullen partners. With the ground expected to be on the slow side, though, Vote Often is fancied to score.

Impressive when breaking her maiden on soft ground at Naas in October, the daughter of Beat Hollow then ground out a brave victory in deep going against older horses on her return in the Park Express Stakes back in March.

She clearly has tremendous potential, so it would be no surprise to see her give Weld his third win in this race since 2006 under James Doyle.

A year ago, Doyle excelled on Al Kazeem to thwart Camelot in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, and he rides Frankel's full-brother Noble Mission in the €210,000 event tomorrow.

This time, he must strive to topple Ballydoyle's Magician, but his mount may not have the quality to do so.

The 10-furlong Group One hasn't turned out as good a race as it might have, with neither Mukhadram nor Trading Leather declared. That should pave the way for Magician to collect.

Last year's Guineas and Breeders' Cup hero is versatile in terms of trip and ground, and he ought to improve for his recent victory here, when he was just sharp enough to beat some inferior rivals.

The nap vote falls the way of Blue Hussar, which Ryan Moore is aboard in the Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes as the champion jockey has instead opted for Adelaide.

Jim Bolger's Renaissance Art is a fascinating rival, as he outpointed Australia on the Derby favourite's debut last June.

However, Blue Hussar ran well at Lingfield last time, when he showed signs of greenness to come from stone-last to be fourth to the Derby-bound Snow Sky.

If he can step forward for that encouraging turn, he could take a bit of stopping.

Irish Independent

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