Big Weekend: Racing to look forward to at Down Royal and Gowran Park

Friday, July 26, 2019
Big Weekend 26th July

Harri’s game

Jessica Harrington equalled her new personal best mark for winners recorded in the Irish Flat season when One Voice and Free Solo gave her a first-and-second-race double at Leopardstown yesterday. That brought her to 43 and given that we have yet to see the back of July, it is a stunning effort, bettered only by Aidan O’Brien and his son Joseph.

It comes about as a result of a good team effort but also a policy decision by Harrington and co to redouble their efforts on the level after the successes of last season, where as well as hitting what was then a PB, they secured their first classic and Royal Ascot successes thanks to the brilliant Alpha Centauri.

The string has increased in terms of numbers and quality and the brains trust responsible for buying have held their end up.

This is noticeable in that the Harrington juveniles are operating at an astonishing 25 per cent strike rate. That figure is higher again if confined to fillies, which maybe should come as no surprise given the strong female influence at Commonstown, where Harrington’s daughters Emma and Kate are her right and left hands.

Shane Foley is another significant factor, having flourshed since becoming No 1 jockey to put himself in third on the jockeys’ table with 49 winners, while Tom Madden is an excellent deputy, and currently on 10.

Given Harrington’s two-year-old record, Bellewstown maiden victor Millisle is worth noting in the Magners Welcome To Ciderland Race (5.30) at Down Royal today. Recall The Show must also be respected, though she has to improve from a debut fifth in Roscommon to take the spoils in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden (7.05).

While Foley is on duty on that pair, Madden gets the leg up at Gowran Park tomorrow due to Foley travelling to Ascot to ride the Harrington-trained Naas maiden victor Punita Arora in the two-year-old fillies’ Group 3 Princess Margaret Keeneland Stakes (1.50). We can expect a strong show.

Madden could well have a very strong chance in the Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Fillies’ Maiden (12.55) with another potentially exciting debutante in the form of Science Please, who is a daughter of Gleneagles and a half-sister of Group 1 winner Gallante. The £27,000 paid for her could well prove a bargain.


Giuseppe interesting for Oxx

It has been a trying few years for legendary trainer John Oxx as numbers and quality dwindled but the man responsible for Sea The Stars, Sinndar, Alamshar and many more has always been a worker who was blessed with patience.

That might have been tested early on is term, when all eyes were on Currabeg after Patrick Prendergast’s decision to assimilate with his neighbour. The injury to Skitter Scatter in the Newmarket 1000 Guineas was an early blow but there has been more cause for positivity in recent months with six winners recorded. Given that the first of those didn’t arrive until Highland Dress claimed a maiden in good style at Cork on May 22, and in total, Oxx has had just 88 runners, he cannot be too unhappy.

He has a very strong representation at Down Royal this evening with five runners. Dromana may well be his best chance of a winner under Adam Farragher in the Magners Rose Apprentice Handicap (8.05), while She’s My Dream, who’s the mount of in-form Andrew Slattery in the Magners Dark Fruit Handicap (6.05) should be competitive but the most interesting representative is Giuseppe Garibaldi in the Listed Her Majesty’s Plate (7.35).

Colm O’Donoghue gets the leg up on the four-year-old, who is having his first run since joining Oxx after a spell in Doha conditioned by Ahmed Kobeissi that yielded no wins, though he was second twice before failing to land a blow in his final race in April.

Giuseppe Garibaldi began life at Ballydoyle and the son of Galileo was very consistent. After his debut run, when he finished seventh in an October 2017 maiden at Gowran Park on heavy ground, he was never again out of the first three in his next 10 runs.

That run included two victories, a listed event among them. Subsequent to that, he was placed in two Group 2s and three Group 3s.

His last run in Ireland came when a close runner-up to Rostropovich in a Group 3 at Leopardstown on September 15, after which he was bought by Hassan Al Abdulmalik. It is interesting now, that he is sent to Oxx and with good form over 1m 6f, should give a good account for himself, albeit that he may be entitled to improve for the run.

Interestingly, when he last ran on native shores, the horse directly behind him was The King and Jessica Harrington’s charge is in opposition again tonight, which should give us an indication as to whether Giuseppe retains his enthusiasm. 

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