Thursday 19 April 2018

Weld's Garden can prove thorn in the side of Juvenile raiders

Richard Hannon, the formidable trainer who last year saddled subsequent Group One winner Dick Turpin to take the Tattersalls Ireland Super Auction Sale Stakes for juveniles, is without a runner in the 2010 renewal of the €150,000 contest at Fairyhouse tomorrow, but the locals will still have plenty of raiders to contend with, writes RICHARD FORRISTAL.

In the last 12 years, Kevin Prendergast's 2008 victor Choose Me is the sole Irish-trained horse to collect the winner's €74,000 pot. The Kildare handler is triple-handed this time in a 22-runner race that has nine foreign challengers.

Two of those, Johnny Murtagh's mount Dereenatra and the Niall McCullagh-ridden Up The Dubs, are trained by the Irish-born Eoghan O'Neill, who relocated from England to France this year.

O'Neill's only previous winner in this country was Red Rioja, which won the Group Three CL Weld Park Stakes under Fran Berry in 2001.

With the ground expected to ride on the slow side, Dereenatra's proven capacity to handle soft going will be to his advantage, but slight preference is for Dermot Weld's Moonlit Garden. Kevin Manning replaces Weld's No 1 rider Pat Smullen -- who is making his way to Canada to ride Famous Name in tomorrow's Woodbine Mile -- on a horse that has solid form in better company than this.

In the 12-furlong handicap that follows, Joseph O'Brien's 5lb claim negates the penalty that Aladdins Cave received for winning under Smullen at Gowran Park last month. This is a competitive contest, but the form of that Gowran win has held up well since, so Colm Murphy's charge should be hard to beat.

Other recent winners Alajan, Saajidah and Dibella will pose the selection's biggest threats.

In light of Smullen's absence and Fran Berry being suspended, Alajan's rider Murtagh has a chance to strengthen his bid to reclaim the jockeys' championship he won last year, with interesting rides in the opening two maidens.

In the Ratoath Maiden over six furlongs, he partners Nidian for Mick Halford. If Nidian handles the conditions, he will have as good a chance as any.

The Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies' Maiden is more open, but Look At Me is a well-bred newcomer from Ballydoyle. She may not need to be a superstar to collect.

The Oldcastle Rated Race brings proceedings to a close. Although there is likely to be little between many of the 12 runners, Joanna Morgan's Snap Alam might just have the edge.

Irish Independent

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