Big Weekend: Family Day at Navan Saturday and racing at Naas Sunday

Friday, May 17, 2019
Big Weekend May 17th

Jockey to follow – Billy Lee

Billy Lee has been ultra-consistent in the saddle for the past three seasons, booting home 48, 46 and last year's 44 winners on the Turf.

He has found a new level this term though, and is operating at a 14 per cent strike rate, with 13 winners from 94 rides. Those winners have been provided by 12 horses and seven different trainers, which is a testament to the Limerick man’s popularity and workrate.

After three rides at Leopardstown this evening, Lee teams up with last year’s Irish 2000 Guineas hero, Romanised in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury tomorrow. Ken Condon’s star made a very pleasing reappearance at Naas last month and could give connections another day to remember.

Lee is back on home turf for Sunday, with a full book of seven engagements in Naas, starting off with Annie Pender in the Finsceal Beo and Al Eile colours of Michael Ryan for his primary employer Willie McCreery in the Irish Stallion Farm EBF Fillies Maiden (1.35). A big filly, she stayed on well from a wide draw to finish fifth of 18 at Cork and stepped up to a mile, is one to note.

He resumes his partnership with Settle For Bay in the Listed Owenstown Stud Stakes (2.40), the pair having combined triumphantly in the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot last year for David Marnane.

Show Must Go will be interesting on his first run for Kilfeacle trainer Aidan Fogarty in the Listed Sole Power Sprint Stakes (3.15), having won and been second twice for owner Theresa Marnane in France as a two-year-old.

This race also marks the return of Beckford under Gordon Elliott’s watch, having won the Railway Stakes as a juvenile before racing in America with Brendan Walsh but not been at the track since winning at Churchill Downs just over 12 months ago. 


Will The Force be with O’Leary?

When Real Force claimed the valuable spoils in a Foran Equine Irish Auction Maiden, and the Plus 10 bonus that went with it, five weeks ago in Naas, he was actually Gerard O’Leary’s first two year-old runner for three years.

The son of Lethal Force and Real Me, who was acquired at last year’s Tattersalls Ireland Yearling Sale in September by Lance Bloodstock Limited for just €15,000, recovered from a slow start to finish with a wet sail and get in front by a half-length at the line under three-pound claimer Killian Leonard.

Having covered his purchase fee at the first time of asking, Real Force is now aimed at further glory and O'Leary has found an opportunity in the Coolmore Gustav Klimt Race (2.05), another Plus 10 affair.

There are just four runners, and so connections are guaranteed a minimum of €2,000 for participating, but despite the other three contestants also having won and Aidan O’Brien, Willie McCreery and Michael O’Callaghan enjoying fruitful seasons to date, ambitions will undoubtedly be greater. The booking of former champion Colin Keane is notable in the pursuit of that goal.

O’Leary, who trains at Dunmurray Hall outside Kildare town, has one other dart over the weekend as he looks for a second winner of the season, Aloysius Lilius and Leonard combining in the Ladies Day At Navan 1st June Handicap (3.35) tomorrow.

This is the three-year-old’s first run for O’Leary after winning as a juvenile in Musselburgh last year and being purchased by Lance Bloodstock Limited following his neck-second at Ripon when under the care of Kevin Ryan at the end of April.


The English is coming

Damian English has long been a man to follow on the all-weather at Dundalk, his cheaply-bought charges being so accustomed to the beach as part of their training routine, and benefiting from being fit and well placed.

The Dubliner has looked to make more of an impact on the Turf this year though and increased the quality of his troops to that end.

Both Geological and Dance Alone have chances at Leopardstown tonight, yard favourite Geological returning to the track in the Paddy’s Rewards Club Handicap (6.00), just six days after travelling powerfully in Cork but losing his unfortunate pilot Stephen Mooney inside the final furlong due to a slipped saddle. This is over a furlong shorter but Colin Keane has been called upon to get the seven-year-old home.

English has two entries at Navan tomorrow – including Dance Alone – while Geological could make a quick reappearance in the Thank You Tom Ryan Handicap (5.35) at Naas on Sunday. This race is named in honour of the departing manager, who has driven a remarkable development of Naas Racecourse over the past decade, in conjunction with a proactive committee. Ryan is taking up a new job in Saudi Arabia. 

Having covered his purchase fee at the first time of asking, Real Force is now aimed at further glory and O'Leary has found an opportunity in the Coolmore Gustav Klimt Race (2.05)

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