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‘Western’ can show his class under Ricky Doyle and make smooth switch to hurdling

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Jockey Ricky Doyle. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Jockey Ricky Doyle. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Jockey Ricky Doyle. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

All eyes are on Epsom for the Derby so it’s only fitting that a horse bred to excel in the premier Classic is the focus of attention in today’s opener at Tramore.

Once rated 110 on the Flat when trained by Aidan O’Brien, Western Australia was never meant to end up in the Visit West Waterford Maiden Hurdle (12.45) but the same could be said about the mighty Istabraq and we all know what happened next with the three-time Champion Hurdle winner. 

Western Australia will not scale anything even remotely close to those heights over obstacles, but the six-year-old is an interesting prospect at the Waterford track having blown some cobwebs away three weeks ago at Killarney.

The son of Australia, Group One-placed as a juvenile when third in the 2018 Vertem Futurity Trophy, was seventh on his hurdling debut after a 925-day lay-off having faded in the home straight.

That was only natural given his lack of race fitness, but John Halley’s charge showed plenty of appetite for jumping and he could spring a mild surprise at decent odds under Irish Grand National-winning rider Ricky Doyle.

Quality is thin on the ground despite four Irish meetings this weekend, but there is plenty to get your teeth stuck into elsewhere as O’Brien bids for back-to-back victories in tomorrow’s Prix du Jockey Club (3.0) at Chantilly.

O’Brien won the Group One contest – also known as the French Derby – for the first time when St Mark’s Basilica scored 12 months ago and he makes a two-pronged attack this time around through Ivy League, the mount of stable jockey Ryan Moore, and the Frankie Dettori-ridden The Acropolis.

Modern Games could prove a tough nut to crack for Charlie Appleby and William Buick, however, after the Dubawi colt landed the French 2,000 Guineas on his first run as a three-year-old last month at Longchamp and he will take some pegging back.

Aidan’s son Joseph is also represented later on the French card when recent Listed winner Brostaigh, aptly named for a sprinter, tackles the Prix du Gros-Chene (5.30) with Dylan Browne McMonagle partnering the Footstepsinthesand filly.

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