Friday 24 November 2017

'Wafi' to strike for McCullagh

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

On what promises to be an informative weekend for John Oxx, the in-form handler's Akeed Wafi can confirm himself a smart juvenile prospect at Gowran Park today.

When the Street Cry half-brother to the 2003 St James's Palace Stakes winner Zafeen finished sixth behind Learn on his Leopardstown debut at the beginning of August, it was fellow Jaber Abdullah-owned stable-mate Akeed Mofeed that really caught the eye by flashing home in fourth.

That one has gone on to advertise the form spectacularly, while the third home Requisition has also since won.

Having appeared slightly one-paced on that occasion, Akeed Wafi will be suited by the step up to a mile in the first division of today's Irish Stallion Farms EBF-sponsored maiden.

It will be a surprise if he doesn't now take all the beating under accomplished veteran Niall McCullagh.

Of his 15 rivals, Rigoletta has the best form, but that one has already had three shots at the target without scoring, so she may be vulnerable again.

Rigoletta's trainer Jim Bolger could be better placed to take the second division with Amhrasach and he can also score with Glor Na Mara in the opening maiden.

Fred Fenster and Eagle Canyon have fair placed form, but Glor Na Mara ought to finally get his head in front.

Campaigned exclusively in Group or Listed company in his first 11 starts, the three-year-old was a spent force by the time he dropped into a handicap at The Curragh in June. Placed in Group Ones last year behind Zoffany and Frankel, he has since been given a long break, so a refreshed Glor Na Mara might prove a formidable opponent.

Michael Bell's Babycakes is the only overseas raider in the featured Denny Cordell Lavarack & Lanwades Stud Fillies' Stakes.

Successful in a Listed race on soft ground in France last time, Joseph O'Brien's mount won't be inconvenienced by the good going here, but she does face a few less-exposed sorts.

Look At Me is a consistent Ballydoyle sort that should be up to winning a Group Three of this nature, but slight preference is for Zaminast.

Another of the Classic generation, Dermot Weld's sister to Famous Name has not been seen since finishing fifth at Leopardstown in May and may simply have taken time to develop.

On the day's jumps card at Navan, Henry de Bromhead's Loosen My Load appeals a likely winner of the Le Grande Chase.

A bold-jumping and consistent novice that acquitted himself well at the highest level last term, the seven-year-old will be suited by two and a half miles here, and he has always been at his very best when fresh.

Paul Nolan's new recruit Adams Island also boasts some smart form, but that one's fencing has let him down at times.

In the subsequent beginners' event, current jockeys' championship leader Davy Russell can collect on Rivage D'Or, a decent hurdler that always looked built for chasing.

Irish Independent

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