Tuesday 23 January 2018

Istan can prevail in modest Blenheim for Team O'Brien

Donnacha O'Brien: racing for glory
Donnacha O'Brien: racing for glory

Johnny Ward

Donnacha O'Brien secured his first Group One winner recently as a rider and he can add further pattern-race glory to his list of achievements at Fairyhouse today.

Aidan O'Brien's younger son gets the mount on Istan in the feature Listed Blenheim Stakes.

This could not be deemed an especially deep edition, with nothing in the race rated higher than 98. That is the mark of Leo Minor, which on the face of it is the main Aidan O'Brien runner, as Seamus Heffernan is in the plate.

The performances of Roly Poly and Brave Anna on Saturday reiterated the class that War Front can implant in his stock. However, there is no getting away from his progeny's established liking for nice ground and Leo Minor certainly will not encounter that at Fairyhouse.

That he is declared to run at all is somewhat surprising and perhaps the trainer believes he will cope with soft terrain; the dam did. However, it must rate a concern and Istan is a hopeful alternative.

Istan is one of the better horses sired so far by Excelebration, which had the misfortune of running against Frankel on five occasions. The jury is out on his potential at stud; he has made an unremarkable start with his first crop of juveniles.

That said, Istan is clearly improving. He failed to win a maiden in three attempts and was only fourth on his fourth start at Killarney, when a little unfortunate. However, he came good when strong in the market off 82 on his nursery bow and he handles an ease.

Ger Lyons, like O'Brien, has two runners. Brooklyn's Rose has her chance, rated 97, but it would be unwise to rule out the mount of Gary Carroll, Mack Attack.

The nap vote goes to Circus Ring, also the mount of Donnacha, in the opening maiden. This Fastnet Rock-bred will be hard to deny if he makes even minor progress from his debut fifth at Naas, with the extra eighth of a mile to suit.

Colin Keane is having another pleasing campaign and he can steer Twist Of Magic to victory in the nursery.

Likely the reversion to a demanding six furlongs will favour the John Feane-trained filly.

Tommy Stack is to retire at the season's end; rider Killian Leonard is just starting off what should be a fine career. They combine with He's Complete, which has every chance in the other sprint handicap.


Frankie Dettori will ride Fascinating Rock if the Dermot Weld-trained five-year-old takes his chance in Sunday's Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly.

Both he and stablemate Harzand will stretch their legs this morning, their participation hinging on their satisfying Weld in their work.

Midterm will miss the race, with Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte team set to rely on New Bay. Christophe Soumillon will partner Silverwave for the first time in race. The Pascal Bary-trained four-year-old returned from a break to land the Prix Foy earlier this month.

The Ladbrokes Munster National, to be run at Limerick Racecourse on Sunday, October 9, has been renamed to honour the memory of John Thomas McNamara, the former amateur who so sadly died in late July.

Irish Independent

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