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Aintree assignment top of Magic Of Light agenda

A second shot at the Randox Grand National remains the ultimate aim for 2019 runner-up Magic Of Light.

The 10-year-old was last seen finishing eight lengths behind Dan Skelton’s Roksana in the Grade Two Warfield Mares’ Hurdle at Ascot on January 23.

Jessica Harrington’s runner had won the two previous renewals of the race, but found Skelton’s highly-regarded mare too good and was passed after the last hurdle having led throughout.

Harrington reports Magic Of Light to be in good form following the run, saying: “She’s very well, we were pleased with her.”

The Kildare-based trainer then pointed out the gap in ratings between her mare and the winner, with Magic Of Light ranked 4lb lower than Roksana but meeting off level weights.

“On ratings she had no right to beat that filly and she ran a very good race on ground that was probably a bit tacky for her,” she said.

“It probably was a stronger renewal, and the ground was very tacky.”

Though there are no appearances pencilled in for the meantime, Harrington is clear on the ultimate aim for the mare this season.

“We’ve no idea where we’ll go next, none at all,” she said.

“But the Grand National is the aim, so we’ll just work our way towards that.”

Magic Of Light finished two and three-quarter lengths behind Tiger Roll in the 2019 Aintree marathon, almost causing a notable upset when starting at a massive price of 66-1.

The mare’s performance over the extreme trip and unique fences of the Grand National were testament to her versatility, whilst her consistency is highlighted by the fact that she has won or been placed in 12 of her 17 chase outings.

“She’s lovely, she’s very consistent,” Harrington said.

“She is as she is, and she’s in great form this year.”

Ashdale Bob handed Leopardstown target

Ashdale Bob has been given the go ahead to run in the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors 50k Cheltenham Bonus For Stable Staff’ Novice Hurdle on the opening day of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown.

Jessica Harrington’s six-year-old won his first two outings over timber impressively, including a Grade Two at Navan.

He was then fancied for the Grade One Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle, but he was an early faller in the contest won by Bob Olinger.

“Ashdale Bob will go for the two miles and six furlongs race at Leopardstown next weekend. He’s a stayer,” said Harrington.

“He’s flying and had no race the last day. He’s absolutely perfect after the fall.

“It was just unfortunate as he came up a stride and a half too far away from the hurdle. He was fine after it.”

Roksana out to uphold Long Walk form back at Ascot

Dan Skelton is hoping Roksana can repeat her excellent Long Walk performance on her return to Ascot for the Matchbook Betting Podcast Mares’ Hurdle.

The nine-year-old was beaten only two lengths when third to Paisley Park in the Grade One over an extended three miles in December and runs against own her sex again on Saturday.

However, it will be no walkover – because the opposition includes Magic Of Light, winner of this race for the last two years.

“I’m delighted with her – it was a great run in the Long Walk over the course and distance,” said Skelton.

“Obviously Magic Of Light is the one to beat, but I’m also respectful of the others in there.

“I think it’s a strong mares’ race, but I’m very happy with ours.”

Magic Of Light, trained in Ireland by Jessica Harrington and runner-up to Tiger Roll in the 2019 Grand National, has already made a successful visit to Britain this season to win a Listed mares’ chase at Newbury for the third year running.

“She is going for a hat-trick in the race and is in great form,” said Kate Harrington, assistant to her mother.

“She is entered in the Gold Cup and the Mares’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and mum is thinking of running her in the Gold Cup.”

Magic Of Light is bidding to win Ascot's Grade Two hurdle for a third time
Magic Of Light is bidding to win Ascot’s Grade Two hurdle for a third time (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Paul Nicholls believes Eglantine Du Seuil can give a good account of herself, with the help of a 6lb concession from the big two.

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“She ran a cracker on her latest start for us six weeks ago in a competitive mares’ handicap hurdle at Cheltenham, where she came from off the pace to be second to The White Mouse,” Nicholls told Betfair.

“This is a new trip for her – and although I can’t be sure she stays three miles, she was keeping on well at the finish at Cheltenham.

“I’m hopeful Eglantine Du Seuil can run tidily, getting 6lb from two smart mares Magic Of Light and Roksana.”

Jeremy Scott is on a discovery mission with Dashel Drasher, who lines up for the bet365 Handicap Chase.

The Somerset trainer wants to find out if his lightly-raced eight-year-old can mix it with seasoned campaigners off his current mark in a competitive race such as this.

What Dashel Drasher has in his favour is a course-and-distance success on his latest start, albeit a three-horse affair.

“He’s come out of his last race really well. It’s very much to find out whether he’s at that level,” said Scott.

“We’ve only ever raced in those novice chases and a graduation chase, so how solid his handicap mark is we don’t know.

“It’s very much in a decent-sized field. I hope he runs well. I was pleased with the way he raced last time, but this will be a different proposition.”

Rose Dobbin has had this race in mind for Jonniesofa for some time – but did not expect it to be as competitive as it has turned out.

However, she reports the 11-year-old to be in good shape following his victory at Carlisle last month.

“He’s doing really well. He’s in great order. I’m very happy with him,” said the Northumberland trainer.

“We picked out this race a while ago, thinking conditions would suit him. Unfortunately, it seems to be quite a competitive renewal, but we’ll go and take our chance and see how he gets on.”

Skelton reports Bennys King to be in prime condition as he attempts to go one better than 12 months ago.

“He won there last time, (and) two-miles-five is a great trip for him,” said the Alcester trainer.

“He looks fantastic – this is the perfect race for him.

“He’s gone up in the handicap, which is making life harder, but I couldn’t be any happier with him.”

Nicholls was delighted to see Capeland return to winning ways at Wincanton, although it means he must race off a career-high mark.

Capeland is up to a career-high mark on Saturday
Capeland is up to a career-high mark on Saturday (PA)

“I was thrilled to see him bounce back to form with a stylish success a fortnight ago off a mark of 149 at Wincanton, back up in trip to two and a half miles,” he said.

“Capeland is now up to a career-high mark of 153 at a track which we know he likes, but he is another who wouldn’t want any more rain at Ascot.”

Tom Lacey is looking forward to having Kateson back on the track in the Matchbook Better Way To Bet Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle, for the first time in seven weeks.

The Herefordshire trainer believes the eight-year-old runs well when fresh, so has given him a break since he was successful at Aintree.

“He seems in good order. I think the trip on that ground will be right up his street, fingers crossed,” said Lacey.

Tom Lacey has given Kateson a break since his Aintree victory
Tom Lacey has given Kateson a break since his Aintree victory (PA)

“He’s a horse that runs best fresh. We’ve just been waiting to find the races for him.

Nicholls is confident of a strong performance from Danny Kirwan.

The Ditcheat handler said: “He has had one or two issues that have interrupted his career but is now in as good a place as we’ve had him for a long time, and it was great to see him show what he can do with a fluent victory over this trip at Ascot two months ago.

“Next time at Cheltenham he didn’t stay three miles. Danny has been working with Politologue and will be much happier back at this trip on testing ground that he relishes. I am expecting a big run from him in a competitive race.”

De Bromhead cues up Bob Olinger to state case in Lawlor’s

Henry de Bromhead plans to let Bob Olinger “do the talking” in the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle.

Impressive in winning a point-to-point and a Gowran Park bumper last season, Bob Olinger made a promising start to his hurdling career when pushing last season’s Champion Bumper winner Ferny Hollow all the way in November.

The Sholokhov gelding duly went one better at prohibitive odds when stepped up two and a half miles at Navan last month, and will bid to follow up at the top level in Wednesday’s rescheduled Grade One.

“We’ll let him do the talking and see. He works really well, and we like him a lot, so fingers crossed he’ll do it on the track,” de Bromhead told Sky Sports Racing last week.

“We’ll get (this race) out of the way and we’ll know more then. He won his point-to-point and looked good at Navan the other day.

“He’s got a lot of pace as well, though. We’ll probably enter him for the three novice hurdles at Cheltenham and see nearer the time, but in my mind it will be either the Supreme or the Ballymore, as opposed to the Albert Bartlett.”

Willie Mullins relies on Blue Lord in a bid to add to his record haul of eight victories in the Grade One contest.

The French import looked a high-class recruit when winning on his Irish debut at Punchestown, and connections are optimistic that he can prove his worth in Grade One company.

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Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: “We were very impressed with Blue Lord in Punchestown. We think there’s a lot of improvement to come from him.

“He’s a horse who will jump a fence in time, but we think he is up to Grade One level, and this will tell us more.

“He came to us very well-schooled and he has always jumped well at ours.

“It’s a big step up, but that’s the way the programme is in Ireland. You’re only taking on horses with one or two more runs, so that’s not a major worry.”

Ashdale Bob and Crosshill give Jessica Harrington a strong hand.

Having claimed Grade Two honours in the Navan Novice Hurdle just over three weeks ago, Ashdale Bob arguably sets the standard here – while stablemate Crosshill won by 11 lengths on his hurdling bow before at Punchestown before chasing home Power Of Pause at the same venue.

“Ashdale Bob won the last day in Navan, and we’ve been very happy with him,” said Harrington’s daughter and assistant, Kate.

“Crosshill was very impressive over two and a half miles when winning his maiden hurdle, and that form has worked out well. We dropped back to two miles the last day, and I think we got the tactics wrong on that occasion.

“The step back up in trip will definitely suit.”

Gordon Elliott, who has landed three of the last four renewals with Death Duty (2017), Battleoverdoyen (2019) and Envoi Allen (2020), saddles two outsiders in Wide Receiver and Ragnar Lodbrok.

He told Betfair: “Wide Receiver is rated 130, but I think he is better than his rating suggests – and his form so far this season is good.

“His second to Ashdale Bob in a Navan maiden hurdle looks like a very good run in hindsight, and I was delighted with his effort at Leopardstown over Christmas when he won a maiden hurdle in good style – I could see him running a big race.

Gordon Elliott provides two of the contenders in Wednesday's Grade One at Naas
Gordon Elliott provides two of the contenders in Wednesday’s Grade One at Naas (PA)

“In truth Ragnar Lodbrok faces a stiff enough task here. But he’s in good form, and I think if he can put together a reasonable round of jumping, he could give a good account of himself.”

Gavin Cromwell’s Gabynako and the Noel Meade-trained Flanking Maneuver, who won a Fairyhouse maiden hurdle less than a fortnight ago, are the other hopefuls.

Meade said: “It’s a Grade One race and a big jump up from a maiden, but we like the horse and said we’d have a rattle at it.

“Putting the race back three days is a help, and he took his maiden race win really well.

“He actually never lost a pound from one day to the next, and that was part of the reason that we decided to run. He lost no weight at all.”

Ashdale Bob takes Navan feature as leading fancies disappoint

Ashdale Bob claimed a surprise victory in the BetVictor Make Your Best Bet Novice Hurdle at Navan.

A field of seven runners went to post for a Grade Two contest better known as the Navan Novice Hurdle, with much of the pre-race attention focussing on the previously unbeaten 7-4 favourite Holymacapony, and the brilliant Envoi Allen’s half-brother, Fighter Allen.

The latter cut out much of the running under Paul Townend, with Holymacapony close up for much of the way, before dropping out quickly before the home turn.

With Fighter Allen’s challenge petering out early in the home straight, Gabynako was left in front jumping the third flight from the finish, before Jessica Harrington’s course-and-distance winner Ashdale Bob nipped up his inside and soon opened up a commanding advantage.

A slick leap at the final-flight sealed the 14-1 shot’s six-length win, providing jockey Paddy Kennedy with the biggest success of his riding career to date.

“He was very good. He switched off lovely today, which is important with him,” said Kennedy.

“He’s a nice horse, he improved a good bit from the last day and I think he’ll improve again on a bit of nicer ground.

“He’s a nice prospect going forward. I’d say chasing is his real game.”

Fakiera, partnered by the winning rider’s younger brother Jack Kennedy, was best of the rest in second.

Both Holymacapony and Fighter Allen were pulled up before the final obstacle.

Magic Of Light seeks Newbury hat-trick

Grand National runner-up Magic Of Light will bid for a third successive victory in the Pertemps Network Mares’ Chase at Newbury.

Jessica Harrington’s charge claimed Wednesday’s Listed prize and a Grade Two over hurdles at Ascot a couple of seasons ago, before going on to find only Tiger Roll too strong in the world’s most famous steeplechase at Aintree.

The nine-year-old completed the same Newbury-Ascot double last term, to set up another National bid, but the Aintree spectacular was ultimately cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Magic Of Light finished a well-beaten fourth on her return to action in a hurdle race at Punchestown last month, but will be a warm order to get back on the winning trail at Newbury under Robbie Power.

Harrington said: “She’s going for the hat-trick and has travelled over great. I just don’t want too much rain – that’s my only worry.

“The ground was heavy for her comeback run at Punchestown, and she was running over a distance much too short for her, but it was grand.

“The Grand National is the plan again, all being well.”

Magic Of Light faces just two rivals, in the Noel Williams-trained Sensulano and Carrolls Milan from Fergal O’Brien’s yard.

Sensulano was actually runner-up to Magic Of Light at Ascot in January, but has a mountain to climb on official ratings in their latest clash – with Carrolls Milan even more up against it.

Pottsie back on winning track at Fairyhouse

Sizing Pottsie made the most of a drop in class to win the Boylesports This Is Betting Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse.

Representing the Supasundae connections of Jessica Harrington and the Potts family, who retired their star hurdler this week, he had the race won turning into the straight.

Sizing Pottsie (7-2) jumped the last two fences in a slightly scruffy manner, but Paddy Kennedy kept him up to his work to beat Entoucas by six lengths.

“Two miles and heavy ground is what he wants,” said Harrington.

“Once he got to the front, he was very lairy and lazy. He went clear very quickly at the second last.

“The two-mile handicap in Leopardstown has a cap of 150 on it. He’s not in the Graded race at Leopardstown and neither is Impact Factor (who won at Fairyhouse last month).

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“One will wait for the Dan Moore here and one might go to England for a two-mile handicap. I’d say Impact Factor will come here.

“They both want soft ground and it’s nice to have them.”

Kennedy’s brother Jack was also on the scoresheet when partnering Gordon Elliott’s Torygraph (evens favourite) to victory in the Visit irishracingyearbook.com For The Perfect Racing Gift Maiden Hurdle.

The rider said: “He’s done it well and jumped great. I didn’t realise how far clear I was, but he’s a lazy sort of a horse. I was just trying to keep the momentum going on him.

“He loves that ground.”

Willie Mullins unleashed his latest exciting bumper prospect as Brandy Love (4-9 favourite) justified strong market support in the closing Irish Stallion Farms EBF 4-Y-O Fillies Flat Race to win by seven lengths.

She was sporting the colours of owner Michael Grech, who is back involved in racing having dissolved his partnership with Stuart Parkin.

Patrick Mullins was on board and said: “She’s very good and a proper mare. That’s what she was showing at home and we thought she would do that.

“Those Jet Away’s seem to be quite good. He’s siring plenty of winners and she will keep his name in lights.

“I’d imagine she will stay in bumpers and could go for the mares’ bumper (at the Dublin Racing Festival) in Leopardstown and could be a spring Festival mare as well.

“It’s Mike Grech’s first runner for us. Henrietta Knight is involved with him as well, so it’s great to get a winner for them.”

Brandy Love is 16-1 from 40s for the Champion Bumper with Betfair.

Front View (11-4) was produced late by Mark Walsh to win the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase.

Trainer Joseph O’Brien’s assistant Brendan Powell said: “He’s never been a natural jumper, even over a hurdle. The last couple of times JJ (Slevin) has had to get him around. His front end is good, but he doesn’t bend his back very well.

“I think the race fell apart. They went a fair gallop and he’s got there. He’s just not a natural jumper, but hopefully he’ll get better as time goes by.

“He was fancied for the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham last season, but he didn’t jump there over hurdles.”

‘Fantastic servant’ Supasundae heads for retirement

Robbie Power hailed Supasundae a “fantastic servant” after the triple Grade One winner was retired from racing.

Having claimed Cheltenham Festival glory in the 2017 Coral Cup, the son of Galileo went on to make his mark at the highest level for trainer Jessica Harrington, with victories in the Irish Champion Hurdle, the Punchestown Champion Hurdle and the Aintree Hurdle.

But with the 10-year-old looking a shadow of his former self in three starts so far this season – most recently finishing last of six runners in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse – Harrington has now called time on his racing career.

“He’s been a fantastic servant,” said Power, who guided Supasundae to five of his eight victories.

“He won three Grade Ones and a Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival. He was also second in a Stayers’ Hurdle a couple of years ago.

“He was just a tough, honest horse who always gave his running. I think he ran in 10 Grade One races consecutively at one stage and was never out of the first three.

“He beat Faugheen in an Irish Champion Hurdle and beat Buveur D’Air in an Aintree Hurdle. Probably beating Faugheen in the Irish Champion Hurdle was his best performance, but I got a great buzz out him winning the Aintree Hurdle as well.”

Supasundae won British bumpers for Tim Fitzgerald and Andrew Balding, before being bought privately by the late Alan Potts ahead of finishing sixth in the 2015 Champion Bumper at Cheltenham for Henry de Bromhead.

He was moved to Harrington’s yard the following year and signs off having either won or been placed on 19 of his 31 career outings – earning almost £770,000 in the process.

Neverushacon too strong for Thunder rivals

Neverushacon made a successful return to action in the Ballymore Group Risk Of Thunder Chase at Punchestown.

Runner-up to Yanworth in last year’s renewal, Jessica Harrington’s charge subsequently won over the cross-country course in February before finishing down the field behind Easysland at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Making his first competitive appearance since, Neverushacon was the 2-1 favourite under regular partner Paddy Kennedy, and travelled strongly and jumped accurately on his way to an 11-length victory over last year’s third Ballyboker Bridge.

Kate Harrington, assistant to her mother, said: “He was deadly and we couldn’t be happier with him – he seems to absolutely love it here.

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“We may go back to Cheltenham in December with him if the ground isn’t too heavy

“For whatever reason, he just seems to be a different horse around here.”

The Willie Mullins-trained Colreevy made a smart start to her career over regulation fences with a wide-margin victory in the Ballymore Group Rated Novice Chase.

Colreevy after winning at Punchestown
Colreevy after winning at Punchestown (Alan Magee/PA)

The point-to-point graduate won the Grade One championship bumper at the Punchestown Festival in the spring of 2019, and went on to ply her trade at a high level over hurdles last term.

However, she could scale even greater heights over the larger obstacles judged on this 15-length success under Paul Townend.

“The trip was ideal, she handled the ground well and she jumped great,” said the champion jockey.

“There was plenty of carnage behind me and I was able to stay out of trouble.

“Her form speaks for itself. She’s a big mare and chasing will be her game.”

Mullins and Townend were on the mark again in the Hub At Ballymore Maiden Hurdle, with French recruit Blue Lord (3-1) making a successful Irish debut – lunging late to deny even-money favourite Julies Stowaway by half a length.

Townend said: “That was a nice performance. It was halfway down to the last before the penny dropped and he started galloping for me. From there with a good jump at the last I was going to win.

“He jumped brilliant. The second wasn’t stopping and it was a good performance to come from behind and go by.

“I think he’ll get further.”

Pepper primed to spearhead Harrington’s Keeneland trio

Cayenne Pepper will lead a three-strong team for Jessica Harrington at next week’s Breeders’ Cup.

The Moone-based handler has established herself as one the sport’s great dual-purpose trainers during a career spanning 30 years.

As well as being the most successful female trainer at the Cheltenham Festival, where her triumphs include two Champion Chases with Moscow Flyer, a Champion Hurdle with Jezki and the Gold Cup with Sizing John, she has becoming increasingly potent on the Flat in recent years.

Harrington broke new ground last season when Albigna became her first ever runner at the Breeders’ Cup, finishing fourth in the Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita, and she will this year head to Keeneland with high hopes of opening her account.

Cayenne Pepper appears a leading contender for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, while Cadillac and Oodnadatta are set to contest the Juvenile Turf and the Juvenile Fillies Turf respectively.

Cayenne Pepper would be a particularly poignant winner following the death of her American owner Jon Kelly earlier this year.

Harrington said: “Cayenne Pepper’s owners Sarah and Jon, when he was alive, couldn’t come over to see Cayenne Pepper run this summer, so I said if it was in any way possible, we’d bring her to the Breeders’ Cup.

“Cadillac won a ‘win and you’re in’ for the Juvenile Turf at Leopardstown. There are also some American owners in the syndicate that own him, so we thought it was probably a good idea to send him as well.

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“We added Oodnadatta because she ran in the Moyglare and there wasn’t really anything else. She wants a bit of nice ground and everywhere we wanted to go, like the Arc meeting at Longchamp and Newmarket, the ground was soft.

“As the other two were going, we said we’d take her and I think she’s going there with an each-way chance.”

Cayenne Pepper kicked off her campaign by finishing runner-up to the top-class older filly Magical in the Pretty Polly Stakes, before finishing second in the Irish Oaks at the Curragh and the Give Thanks Stakes at the Curragh.

A drop in trip helped her get back to winning ways with an impressive victory in the Group Two Blandford Stakes on her return to the Curragh last month.

Cayenne Pepper following her latest victory
Cayenne Pepper following her latest victory (PA)

“Sarah is going to be there, so let’s hope the filly can run a big race and show her true colours in Jon’s memory,” Harrington continued.

“I suppose I’d love to be drawn three or four – towards the inside, but not on the rail. I don’t really want to be drawn out wide.

“I would like no extremes of ground – I don’t want it too firm and I don’t want it too wet. Good ground would be fine.”

Cadillac bolted up on his Leopardstown debut in early July, before being touched off by recent Vertem Futurity Trophy winner Mac Swiney in the Futurity Stakes at the Curragh the following month.

The Lope De Vega colt then slammed subsequent French Group One winner Van Gogh in a Group Two on his return to Leopardstown, but could only finish fifth when stepped up to the highest level for the Dewhurst at Newmarket.

Cadillac is an exciting juvenile for the Harrington team
Cadillac is an exciting juvenile for the Harrington team (PA)

“He just got stuck in the mud in the Dewhurst. I should have been very grown up and taken him out, but it’s a very hard thing to do when you’re over there and it’s a Group One,” Harrington explained.

“When Mac Swiney beat him at the Curragh it was very soft, holding ground and Shane (Foley, jockey) said he knew going to the start he didn’t like it.

“He’s quite a laid back horse. We were very surprised when he won his maiden as he never impresses you at home and just goes through the motions, so we never really know how he is.”

Oodnadatta also won on her racecourse introduction at Leopardstown, before finishing fifth in the Silver Flash and third in the Moyglare Stud Stakes.

Harrington added: “She won first time out and unfortunately her second race was a complete non-event, as she got bumped coming out of the stalls and never had a chance of getting into it.

“She did run very well in the Moyglare over seven furlongs and all she was doing was staying on.

“Hopefully a fast-run race over a mile will suit her.”

Alpine Star team excited for 2021 campaign

Connections of Alpine Star are looking forward to seeing what next season holds for the top-class filly following her narrow defeat on Arc weekend in Paris.

Successful on two of her three starts as a juvenile, the daughter of Sea The Moon made a spectacular start to her three-year-old campaign with a brilliant victory in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot under Frankie Dettori.

Jessica Harrington’s charge has since been touched off in the French Oaks at Chantilly, the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville and Prix de l’Opera at ParisLongchamp, most recently going down by a short neck to a fellow Irish raider in Dermot Weld’s Tarnawa.

Celebration time for Frankie Dettori and Alpine Star
Celebration time for Frankie Dettori and Alpine Star (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Alpine Star will now enjoy a winter break before being brought back for more top-level targets in 2021.

Alan Cooper, racing manager for owners the Niarchos family, said: “She ran another blinder in the Opera. She’s a tough, honest and very high-class filly.

“We’ll put her away now and bring her back for a four-year-old campaign next season. She’s very consistent and hopefully there’ll be more Group One races for her.

“It will be interesting to see what Jessie decides regarding trip next year. She seems equally capable over a mile and a mile and a quarter at the moment, which is very exciting.”

Sizing John retired following injury setback

Sizing John has been retired after sustaining an injury while being prepared to run in the Kerry Group Chase at Listowel on Sunday.

Though the injury is not life-threatening, trainer Jessica Harrington decided it was best to call it a day after several setbacks restricted the 10-year-old to just one run since December 2017.

Earlier that year Sizing John completed the rare treble of the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown, the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Punchestown Gold Cup.

He made a flying start to the following campaign in the John Durkan, but disappointed at Leopardstown over Christmas – and injuries then kept him off the track for more than two years.

He made his long-awaited return over hurdles at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve, but fell three flights from the finish.

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Injured in that tumble, he was unable go for a second Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup in February and was scratched from the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

“He has been retired. Unfortunately, he gave himself an injury this morning,” Harrington told Racing TV.

“It’s not life-threatening, but he won’t be able to run on Sunday. He did his last gallop and it just went wrong after that, so sadly we’ve decided we’ve had enough comebacks with him and we’re going to retire him now and he can have a happy retirement.

“He ran on New Year’s Eve and unfortunately fell and hurt himself. I thought I’d get him back, then I didn’t, and we were right back on track and Robert (Power) was absolutely thrilled with him. I felt very sad this morning ringing up the Potts family to say finally we have to retire him.”

Harrington recalled the spring of 2017 when Sizing John was in his prime and fulfilled the dreams of his owners Ann and Alan Potts by winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

“It was special and ended up being more special because first of all Ann Potts died, and three months later Alan died, so they did achieve what they wanted to do and win a Gold Cup,” she said.

“They ended up winning three Gold Cups, which was absolutely wonderful and they were all there to enjoy it.

“Cheltenham was unbelievable, magical. You don’t need an aeroplane to bring you home when things like that happen to you.

“Punchestown was another very special day. Ann and Alan Potts were both over for that as well. It was fantastic.”

Sizing John is likely to stay at Harrington’s Commonstown Stables in County Kildare, with the trainer adding: “I’m pretty sure he’ll stay with me.”

Sizing John won nine of his 21 races and amassed £776,806 in total prize money.

Cadillac speeds to impressive Leopardstown victory

Cadillac showed his rivals a clean pair of heels to run out an impressive victor in the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes at Leopardstown.

Jessica Harrington’s charge was sent off the 11-8 favourite for the Group Two affair despite being edged out in the Futurity Stakes and settled on the outside by Shane Foley, tracking the pace set by Van Gogh.

Cadillac travelled well throughout the mile heat, and when Foley asked his partner to quicken inside the final furlong, the Lope De Vega colt displayed an electric turn of foot, quickly pulling clear to run out a three-and-a-half-length winner over Van Gogh. Reve De Vol was a further two and three-quarter lengths back in third.

Coral made Cadillac their 8-1 co-favourite for next year’s 2000 Guineas, with Betfair cutting him from 33-1 to 12-1 for the Newmarket Classic.

The latter also go 5-1 about his chances for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in the autumn and the trainer’s daughter, Kate, indicated America could be the next port of call.

She said: “You’d have to be delighted with him. You saw the real Cadillac there today and he’s a lovely horse.

“He’s a horse that just goes through the motions at home, you don’t really know how big an engine is in there, but it’s fairly big.

“He didn’t really learn much the first day, but learned a lot the last day and he did it right there today.

“It’s great for the syndicate (Alpha Racing 2020), which we started two years ago and this is the second running of it. We’re going to go forward with it next year and it’s great to have a high-profile horse like this.

“I’d say all being well his next start will probably be in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.”

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Monday (right) on her way to victory
Monday (right) on her way to victory (PA)

Monday (12-1) made every yard of the running to claim the Ballylinch Stud Irish EBF Ingabelle Stakes.

Fourth on her only previous run, Seamie Heffernan had his Aidan O’Brien-trained mount sharply away, with better-fancied stablemate and 9-4 favourite More Beautiful settled on her heels.

However, Ryan Moore was pushing the market leader from some way out and it was left to No Speak Alexander to throw down a challenge, but she fell short by three-quarters of a length at the line.

The winner was introduced as a 33-1 shot for next year’s 1000 Guineas by Betfair, and 25-1 by RaceBets, and she could now take a jump up in company.

O’Brien said: “She’s the first foal out of Ballydoyle. She can step into a Group race fairly quick, I’d say.

“She probably learned a lot the first day and learned a good bit more today. I’d say she won’t have any problem stepping up quick.

“The Boussac, Fillies’ Mile, all those races will be open to her.”

Tiger Moth (5-6 favourite) then made it a treble on the day for O’Brien with a clear-cut victory in the Paddy Power ‘Is It 2021 Yet?’ Stakes.

O’Brien also struck gold in the feature Irish Champion Stakes with Magical, and Irish Derby second Tiger Moth brought up the hat-trick with the minimum of fuss, coasting home by four lengths under Ryan Moore.

O’Brien said: “He’s a lovely horse. Obviously his last run was in the Irish Derby.

“We gave him a break, said we’d come back here and maybe have a look at the Melbourne Cup, but he probably won’t get in where he is. He’s 8lb below Santiago.

“I wasn’t sure a mile and a half was his thing and we would have been very happy going back to a mile and a quarter. It was a strong-run mile and a half and we were going to find out today whether he stayed or not.”

Safe Voyage (right) just prevailed for trainer John Quinn
Safe Voyage (right) just prevailed for trainer John Quinn (PA)

Safe Voyage and Sinawann produced a fantastic finish to the Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile, with John Quinn’s British raider just grabbing the verdict in a photo.

Colin Keane, who had earlier struck Group One gold with Champers Elysees in the Matron Stakes, had to be at his strongest to get Safe Voyage (4-1) back in front on the line, triumphing by a short head.

He said: “I thought Ronny (Ronan Whelan, Sinawann’s rider) was just after nabbing me, but to be fair to my horse, when the other horse came to him he put his head down and tried very hard.

“He travelled very strong, quickened well and when he did get by him, my lad fought back very bravely.

“He’s been a revelation from winning the premier handicap in Galway to these Group Twos. It’s a brilliant training performance.”

Halimi claimed handicap honours
Halimi claimed handicap honours (PA)

Halimi (18-1) swooped inside the final furlong of the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Petingo’ Handicap to collar the gutsy Springbank and repel the late thrust of Shoshone Warrior for Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning.

“I just spoke to the boss and he’s delighted with the horse. He’s a nice progressive type,” said Bolger’s daughter, Una Manning.

“We’re thrilled with him and he’ll go for more of the same. It’s nice to win a big pot like this on Champions Day.”

Song faces seven in defence of her Irish Leger title

Search For A Song is set to face seven rivals when she bids for back-to-back victories in the Comer Group International Irish St Leger at the Curragh on Sunday.

The Moyglare Stud Farm-owned filly provided trainer Dermot Weld with an eighth success in the final Classic of the Irish season 12 months ago, leaving him one short of the record set by the late Vincent O’Brien.

Search For A Song is winless in three starts this season, but did run with credit over an inadequate trip when third behind the top-class Magical in the Tattersalls Gold Cup on her latest appearance.

Twilight Payment is the likely favourite for Joseph O’Brien, after landing both the Vintage Crop Stakes and the Curragh Cup over the course and distance this season.

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Aidan O’Brien saddles last year’s Irish Derby hero Sovereign, who was last seen chasing home Enable in the King George, as well as three-year-old filly Passion.

Jessica Harrington’s Barbados, the Willie Mullins-trained Micro Manage and Luke Comer’s Raa Atoll complete the home team, with British hopes carried by Roger Varian’s Ebor winner Fujaira Prince.

The first of four Group Ones on day two of Longines Irish Champions Weekend is the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes, which has attracted 15 high-class sprinters.

Denis Hogan’s prolific five-year-old Make A Challenge faces an eight-strong British contingent which includes the Michael Dods-trained Que Amoro – runner-up to Battaash in the Nunthorpe at York last month – and Simon and Ed Crisford’s course and distance winner A’Ali.

Joseph O’Brien’s hugely impressive Debutante winner Pretty Gorgeous is a short-priced favourite for the Moyglare Stud Stakes.

She is reopposed by Donnacha O’Brien’s Debutante runner-up Shale and Aidan O’Brien’s Debutante third Mother Earth, while Ken Condon has both Teresa Mendoza and Thunder Beauty in a field of 13 juvenile fillies.

The Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes throws up a fascinating Anglo-Irish clash between Master Of The Seas and Battleground.

The unbeaten Master Of The Seas bids to provide Charlie Appleby with a third straight win in the seven-furlong contest, following the recent triumphs of Quorto and Pinatubo.

Aidan O’Brien has won the race on 11 occasions and is represented by his star juvenile colt of the campaign so far in Battleground – winner of the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Vintage at Goodwood this summer.

The pair are joined at the head of the betting by Harrington’s Phoenix Stakes victor Lucky Vega in what could well be the strongest two-year-old race of the season so far.

Group Two honours are up for grabs in the Blandford Stakes, which features O’Brien senior’s Magic Wand and Harrington’s pair of Cayenne Pepper and One Voice.

Two-year-old Flat Debutants, Part 2

In part 1 of this series, here, I suggested that if we were looking to blindly back two-year-olds on their flat debut this season, our starting point should initially be those juveniles trained by Richard Fahey, Jessica Harrington and Ger Lyons, writes Chris Worrall. As well as that standout trio, I was also interested in those trained by Paul Cole, Eve Johnson Houghton and David Simcock, notwithstanding the reservations I highlighted about those three.

I went on to highlight in that opening piece that we may be able to eliminate some bad bets by focusing more on each trainer's runners based on a series of factors: track location, actual track, race class/distance/going, jockeys used, time of year and sex of horse.

Richard Fahey

So, if we start with our three headline acts, we can see that Richard Fahey's results with 2yo flat debutants from 2016-19 were as follows:

Closer inspection of those 381 runners showed no real bias towards either gender or for any particular reported ground conditions, but of the other five tested variables, I found (in sample size order) that those numbers included:

  • 55/363 (15.15%) for 135.66pts (+37.37%) over trips of 5 to 7 furlongs
  • 53/359 (14.76%) for 125.13pts (+34.85%) during April to September
  • 51/339 (15.04%) for 122.82pts (+36.24%) in Yorkshire, NW & Central England
  • 47/314 (14.97%) for 132.07pts (+42.06%) at Classes 4 & 5
  • 38/236 (16.10%) for 92.88pts (+39.36%) ridden by Tony Hamilton or Paul Hanagan

(all profit quoted is to Betfair Starting Price, BSP)

And when combine all those filters, we are left with...

Suggestion: back all Richard Fahey 2yo Flat debutants ridden by Tony Hamilton or Paul Hanagan at up to 7 furlongs in Class 4 or 5 races in Yorkshire, the North West or Central England during April to September.

Jessica Harrington

And now onto Jessica Harrington, whose 2016-19 stats were...

From which (in order of winners)...

  • 18/114 (15.79%) for 81.5pts (+71.49%) over trips of 5 to 7 furlongs
  • 15/122 (12.3%) for 23.28pts (+19.08%) in Leinster
  • 15/104 (14.42%) for 56.85pts (+54.67%) on ground declared as Good to Yielding or firmer
  • 15/80 (18.75%) for 80.7pts (+100.88%) during May to July
  • 13/95 (13.68%) for 26.94pts (+28.35%) with female runners

And combining trip, track location, going and time of year gives us...

             

of which the gender spilt is as follows....

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The females win more often, but the males generate more profit, so I'm not really convinced we should narrow it down either way.

Suggestion: back Jessica Harrington's 2 year olds on debut in Leinster (Bellewstown, Curragh, Fairyhouse, Gowran Park, Leopardstown, Naas, Navan) during May to July at trips up to 7 furlongs and on ground described as Good to Yielding or firmer.

Ger Lyons

The final member of our top trio is Ger Lyons, who qualified on his record over the last three seasons of...

Once again, we'll subject those runners to the filtering system, where it can be noted:

  • 30/130 (23.08%) for 90.71pts (+69.78%) over trips of 6f to 1m
  • 30/125 (24%) for 95.71pts (+76.57%) during April to September
  • 29/137 (21.17%) for 76.78pts (+56.05%) on ground deemed Soft or better
  • 29/136 (21.32%) for 79.30pts (+58.31%) in Leinster and Munster
  • 28/116 (24.14%) for 79.07pts (+68.16%) when ridden by Colin Keane

and when we combine those five sets of data, we end up with a fantastic set of numbers reading...

Once again both sexes fare well as follows...

...so we'll not differentiate between the two.

Suggestion: back all Ger Lyons' 2 yo debutants ridden by Colin Keane over trips of 6f to a mile in Leinster (see above for tracks) and Munster (Cork, Killarney, Limerick, Listowel, Thurles, Tipperary) on Soft ground or better from April to September.

*

Those were the three main protagonists from part 1 of this series; combining their two-year-old flat debutants under the specified conditions brings us to 66 winners from 293 runners (22.53% SR) and 266.74pts of profit at an excellent ROI of some 91.04%.

Clearly it will be difficult to fully repeat those numbers but if they only do half as well in the next three or four years we'll still be looking at 130+ points.

*

So what of our 'second string' trio of Paul Cole, Eve Johnson Houghton and David Simcock? Are there conditions under which we might follow their juvenile debutants?

The easiest way to find out is to dive into the data, starting with...

Paul Cole

Cole's base figures with 2yo first-time starters are:

That's a small sample size so caution is advised, but they do include of note...

  • 6/35 (17.14%) for 68.1pts (+194.57%) in Classes 4 and 5
  • 6/30 (20%) for 73.1pts (+243.67%) over trips of 5 or 6 furlongs
  • 6/29 (20.69%) for 74.1pts (+255.52%) during April to July
  • 6/14 (42.86%) for 89.1pts (+636.43%) at Brighton, Leicester & Newbury
  • 5/28 (17.86%) for 31.35pts (+111.96%) in SE England
  • 3/10 (30%) for 60.92pts (+609.2%) with Raul Da Silva in the saddle

You probably don't need me to point out how Paul got all of his six original winners, but combining those first four filters gives...

Suggestion: keep an eye out for Paul Cole 2yo firsters in Class 4 or 5 races over 5 or 6 furlongs at Brighton, Leicester or Newbury from April to July, especially if Raul da Silva's on board, even if it's a big price.

Eve Johnson Houghton

Next up is Eve Johnson Houghton, whose own record during the last four seasons was...

...which, like Paul Cole previously, was a smaller than ideal sample size, but did include...

  • 8/52 (15.38%) for 141.35pts (+271.82%) excluding April and July
  • 7/62 (11.29%) for 98.02pts (+158.10%) in Classes 4 and 5
  • 7/46 (15.22%) for 106.94pts (+232.48%) over 6 or 7 furlongs
  • 6/47 (12.77%) for 120.04pts (+255.41%) in SE England
  • 6/41 (14.63%) for 88.22pts (+215.16%) ridden by Charles Bishop
  • 6/37 (16.22%) for 142.18pts (+384.26%) from female runners
  • and 5/21 (23.81%) for 42.74pts (+203.52%) on Good to Soft or Soft ground

Combining class, month, distance and going gives us...

...and despite this dozen qualifiers include 4 from 7 (57.1%) for 48.5pts (+392.7%) for Charles Bishop, 3 from 6 (50%) for 43.6pts (+726.2%) for females and 3 from 6 (50%) for 31.4pts (+524%) in the South East, there is an uneasy feel to the exclusion of April and July - I can't come up with a logical reason why the horses would fail to fire in that month. Instead, I've taken a more straightforward view...

Suggestion: Look out for Eve Johnson Houghton's Class 4 and 5 runners over 6 or 7 furlongs on Good to Soft or Soft ground. Add a bonus point if you see Charles Bishop down to ride.

David Simcock

And finally for this look at trainers who perform well with juvenile first time starters, we'll put David Simcock under the microscope, despite his sobering record last season (0 from 20). Even with that abject campaign, his four year score is...

and again we've only a small number of runners to consider, but they do include...

  • 6/31 (19.4%) for 18.65pts (+60.17%) when ridden by Jamie Spencer
  • 4/20 (20%) for 49.15pts (+245.76%) over a mile
  • 4/15 (26.7%) for 27.4pts (+182.66%) at Yarmouth
  • 3/14 (21.4%) for 23.6pts (+168.6%) for Jamie Spencer over a mile
  • 3/9 (33.3%) for 28.6pts (+317.8%) for Jamie Spencer at Yarmouth
  • 3/7 (42.9%) for 30.6pts (+437.1%) over a mile at Yarmouth
  • and 3/6 (50%) for 32.69pts Jamie Spencer over a mile at Yarmouth

Obviously the Jamie Spencer angle is interesting, especially over a mile at Yarmouth, but I feel that particular stat lends more to the excellent record the jockey and trainer have together at that venue (a story for another day, perhaps?), but as for this piece...

Suggestion: Note, but don't necessarily back, David Simcock two-year-old flat debutants.

*

All of which second team deliberation leaves us with just the Paul Cole and Eve Johnson Houghton runners, whose suggested angles combine for 11 winners from 22 runners (50% SR) and 144.84 pts (+658.6% ROI) as a juicy-looking - but less reliable based on sample size - supplement to our top trio's 66 winners from 293 runners (22.53% SR, +266.74 BSP, ROI of 91.04%).

Hopefully, we'll soon be able to "live trial" these angles. Fingers crossed and all that, but for now, thanks for reading and I'll be back with more soon.

 - CW