Big Weekend: Plenty of racing to look forward to at Cork, Naas, Killarney and Leopardstown

Friday, May 10, 2019
Big Weekend 10th May

Trials continue

Leopardstown hosts three Group 3 contests on Derrinstown Stud Derby Trials Day this Sunday.

The Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial is the feature, with a number of potential contenders for Curragh and Epsom glory looking to establish their credentials.

Broome had an excellent juvenile campaign for Aidan O’Brien, finishing strongly when only finding Madhmoon and Royal Marine too good in Group 2 and Group 1 company respectively. He showed his liking for the step up to 10 furlongs by recording an eight-length win in the Ballysax Stakes on his reappearance at this venue on soft ground. Stablemate and runner-up Sovereign reopposes.

Joseph O’Brien saddles Buckhurst for only his second racecourse appearance, having won on debut at Leopardstown at the beginning of April, while Dermot Weld is looking to get within one of O’Brien Snr’s tally of 11 triumphs in this race with Rakan.

The Derrinstown Stud 1000 Guineas Trial is notable in that while the O’Briens, Weld, Jim Bolger and Michael Halford are represented with considerable talent, there is a real spread of conditioners, with nine separate individuals providing the 10 runners.

The presence of representatives of Ado McGuinness (Beau Warrior), Richard O’Brien (Dean Street Doll) and Tom Mullins (Mia Mento) is reflective of their impact of late, while Fozzy Stack will also be hopeful for his Cork victor, Lady Wannabe.

The Comer Group International Amethyst Stakes (2.15) has just six runners but none of them can be ruled out. The Stack-trained Zihba bids to make it two-in-a-row but Dermot Weld’s Hazapour, Ger Lyons’s Psychedelic Funk and Jim Bolger’s Verbal Dexterity are sure to make a bold bid for honours.

Jockey/Trainer to watch – Denis Hogan

Denis Hogan is very unusual in racing anywhere around the world in that he is combining being a professional jockey with the responsibilities of being a trainer. What is more, he has made it work, progressing his training operation significantly in recent years, improving the quality and quantity over both codes.

Inis Meain, Jack The Wire, Youcantcallherthat and the exciting Moyhenna have demonstrated his talents as a pilot and conditioner, while on the level, Tithonus won eight times after being purchased cheaply. Allegio and Gopsies Daughter are two more who clearly enjoy the Cloughjordan air.

Hogan rides the majority of his charges in the National Hunt sphere, but has a wide range of riders he calls upon for his Flat horses, including Rory Cleary, Donagh O’Connor, Killian Leonard and recently, exciting young apprentice, Joey Sheridan.

His last jumps season produced 20 winners as a trainer, with 17 coming from the flat in 2018. He is already off the mark in the nascent NH campaign and has six for the calendar year on the level.

The weekend is an extremely busy one, with 22 runners from this evening until Sunday an indication of the growth of his string.

Of the nine in action tonight, Castlebellingham, in the Roadstud Installations Maiden Hurdle (5.25), and Classic Escape, in the Portman Dental Care Handicap Hurdle (5.55) look the strongest in Downpatrick, while doughty servant Turbine would not be a shock victor of the Matchbook Straight Seven Handicap (8.05) at Cork.

Tomorrow, Brawler will be looking to build on an excellent debut second to bag the Summer BBQ Evenings Maiden Hurdle (1.50) at Cork, while Evasive Power is an interesting contender in the Royal Ascot Trials & Ladies Day 19th May Handicap (5.05) at Naas on his first run for Hogan since making the switch from the Michael O’Callaghan yard.

On Sunday, Hogan has two runners apiece in Killarney, where he has enjoyed success in the past, and Leopardstown.



Jockey to Watch – Donnacha O’Brien

The champion jockey added to his classic haul last weekend when Magna Grecia garnered the English 1000 Guineas and he has been in fine form throughout the current campaign.

Prior to racing this evening, O’Brien sits on top of the table once more with 18 winners from just 58 rides on these shores – representing a quite staggering 31 per cent strike rate.

Given his height and subsequent battle with the scales, the 20-year-old has to be selective about his engagements but regardless of whether he is operating in handicap or Group 1 fare, he gets the job done for both his father Aidan and brother Joseph.

He has three rides at Cork tonight and if sticking to his strike rate, one of those will win. Cava will be the strongest fancy to do that in the Listed Goffs Irish EBF Polonia Stakes. With 10 more engagements at Naas and Leopardstown, the odds suggest another three.

Of course maintaining a three-in-10 strike rate is highly unlikely and so, placing such expectation on O’Brien’s young shoulders is unfair. But he is a man who is accustomed to high expectations. And at this moment in time, he definitely the jockey to side with.

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