Friday 24 November 2017

Zhukova paints a 'Pretty' picture for Smullen

Forgotten Rules seemingly lost some of his ability and Smullen is no more than hopeful of his chances. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Forgotten Rules seemingly lost some of his ability and Smullen is no more than hopeful of his chances. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

A wonderfully deep card concludes the Irish Derby Festival at the Curragh tomorrow and Pat Smullen, who has the best book of rides of all pilots, is bullish that the feature Pretty Polly Stakes can be his.

The County Offaly rider told the 'Punter's Platform' podcast that Dermot Weld deserved credit for his planning with Zhukova, likely to go off favourite in the Moyglare, with potential rival Somehow not declared.

"She is coming back off her career-high win - she has been extremely well-placed to win a Grade One in Belmont. If the rain comes she has a great chance," said Smullen.

Journey - John Gosden and Kevin Manning forming a rare alliance - actually has 4lbs in hand of Zhukova in theory but preference here is for the Weld filly.

Without his true queens, O'Brien relies on Pocketfullofdreams and Rain Goddess, which has a squeak after running a blinder at Royal Ascot under Ryan Moore.

The highest-rated runner in the Comer Group International Curragh Cup, Wicklow Brave, has his own ideas and is potentially vulnerable after his own (fruitless) trip to Belmont last month.

Rekindling, the run of which in the Derby seemed one for the pen's horizontal line, gets a stone off his elders and is a hopeful choice.

Forgotten Rules seemingly lost some of his ability and Smullen (left) is no more than hopeful of his chances.

The Grangecon Stud Stakes is a cracker and Clemmie, despite a somewhat laboured bid at Royal Ascot, is worth giving another chance.

The sister to Churchill never seemed happy in Berkshire but was not disgraced and is preferred to the unbeaten Two Familiar, which seems sure to like the extra furlong.

The other Group Three, the Finlay Volvo International Stakes, looks a reasonable opening for Johannes Vermeer.

He returned to action this year and has been nearer last than first on all three starts but the first was behind Minding, the other two Group Ones. He is running with credit and any more rain is a bonus too.

One of the compelling aspects of this ten-furlong heat is the presence of The Grey Gatsby, having his first run for Dermot Weld.

Smullen is confident about Naggers in the Tote Rockingham and Paul Midgley's raider has big claims from his high draw.

The opening Barronstown Stud Irish EBF (C & G) Maiden provides the nap selection in Gustav Klimt.

Given the dreadful record of Ballydoyle's debutants this year, his fifth-place finish here in late May was more than encouraging. Moore is set to take over.

Tuam rider Leigh Roche takes the steer on Mr Ormsby, which is lively at the prices in the RTE Radio One Handicap. Running off 71, has placed all-weather form off 78 and will seems to go fine on yielding terrain.

Sister Blandina is a hardy daughter of Masterscraftsman on which John Murtagh can rely in the concluding Troytown Grey Abbey Equine Hospital Handicap.

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