Sunday 25 February 2018

'Wellington' should give Gowran rivals the boot

Donnacha O'Brien. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Donnacha O'Brien. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Donnacha O'Brien's unlikely championship bid may claw for some of the narrative between now and the end of a somewhat unusual Irish season.

The young rider has four mounts tonight and it seems glaringly apparent that he - not Seamus Heffernan - is getting the pick of his father Aidan's steeds. That is even without the mounts his brother Joseph will give him too.

With his father and brother's firepower, Donnacha looks interesting at 9/1 to win the title. He can close the gap on Colin Keane to 15 by taking the Gowran opener with Mount Wellington.

This horse justified a rating of 88 when thereabouts in a Galway handicap on similar terrain, so it will take a fair effort to beat him given his low draw now, and that he is trained in Ballydoyle.

Read more: O'Brien eyes trial hat-trick for 'St George'

This one was put in at 2/1 last evening and so was stable ally World Stage in the nightcap. Another Galileo-bred, he was a bit one-paced at the Curragh last time, but seems to be improving.

It would seem that Donnacha is on the "wrong" one in the feature Listed Irish Stallion Farms EBF Hurry Harriet Stakes, always a tough contest. Alluringly, second to Enable in a trial before the Oaks in which she placed, will be very hard to beat on that form, though being drawn 12 is almost certainly no help. The mount of Heffernan can take this.

"Alluringly drops in trip after a little break, which I think will suit," said the trainer. "Pocketfullofdreams will like an ease and we run Pavlenko too," he added.

A trappy nursery could go to the Rock Of Gibraltar filly, Smiling Eliza, which has the assistance of Leigh Roche, though he rarely teams up with Gordon Elliott to have a winner. She should handle the ground and made a step forward when not beaten far in a Leopardstown heat on latest.

Read more: 'Poli' woe and 'Classic' blow for O'Leary jumping team

The McEnery Cup Handicap is a fascinating race. Donnacha O'Brien could take this with San Remo, but Dermot Weld may emphasise his revival now with the Iffraaj colt Massayan. He has a rating of 92, in keeping with the smart form Pat Smullen's mount showed at three, though his seasonal return raises doubts.

Ger Lyons' Lady Nathaniel was a disappointing favourite at Galway but is worth another chance in the fillies' handicap, run over the trip of the feature, while over that distance Kandahari is a tentative choice in the apprentices' race.

Irish Independent

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