Bray rides to rescue as Diva joins line-up
Navan trainer Ollie Bray has come to the rescue after agreeing to let his bitch Royal Diva take her place in Saturday's semi-finals of the Gain Feeds Select Stakes at Waterford.
There were exemptions for the highest placed finishers in the Derby, Oaks and Laurels, but, on Monday, it appeared that there was no Oaks finalist available to take up the invitation.
However, Bray has had second thoughts, so Royal Diva will be a runner and has a favourable enough inside draw in the second heat.
She will meet the two other bitches in the competition, Carrowgarriff and Killinan Baby, in the second heat. Also in the line-up here will be early paced Norristown Bud, Farloe Calvin and Burgess Rumble.
Rachel Wheeler's Laurels winner Lassa Expedition will face Owen McKenna's Puppy Derby winner Vanrooney in a high-profile first-heat clash. Another big early pacer will be Mistaken. The field is completed by All About Ya, Holycross Gerry and Kilgraney Bolt.
There should be a hugely exciting contest at Drumbo Park on Saturday night for the final of the Caledonia Smooth Gold Cup. The big names here are the semi-final winners Aero Nemesis and Atitboy and they totally dominate the betting with the firms.
Following a sparkling 28.31 run in the semis, Ronnie McKeown's Atitboy is only the second favourite for the final. Top of the betting is Craig Kelly's Aero Nemesis, which won his semi in 28.85, but went around in 28.43 at the previous stage.
Both these dogs have very good early pace and the race to the bend will be key. A strict reading of Atitboy's sectional time last weekend would entitle him to the vote, but this is clearly one race that will be decided in the first 75 yards.
Reggie Roberts could be worth following at Shelbourne Park this evening as he looks capable of recording a double with the well-bred duo of Head Guide (9.0) and Half A Cent (9.30).
The former lines out in the feature race, the final of an A3 525, and will be one of the main fancies. He made his debut in the semis, displaying plenty of pace in defeat and he should improve considerably for the run. He is a confident selection to seal victory.
Half A Cent is bred to stay a longer trip, yet he posted a very slick 17.71 for 325 yards on his debut around Longford late last month. He can continue his unbeaten ways in the seventh race where a step up to four bends should really suit.
Gain Select Stakes
Waterford – Saturday
Heat 1: 1 Kilgraney Bolt, 2 Van- rooney, 3 All About Ya, 4 Holycross Gerry, 5 Lassa Expedition,
Heat 2: 1 Burgess Rumble, 2 Royal Diva, 3 Carrowgarriff, 4 Killinan Baby, 5 Farloe Calvin, 6 Norristown Bud.
Caledonia Gold Cup
Drumbo – Saturday
1 Canvas Drogba, 2 Aero Nemesis, 3 Work Me Lord, 4 China Special, 5 Atitboy, 6 Big Johns Girl.