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Innisfree returns from long absence in Royal Whip

Innisfree makes his return from almost two years off the track in the Fitzdares Royal Whip Stakes at the Curragh on Friday.

Aidan O’Brien’s charge won twice from four juvenile starts in 2019, including a Group Two triumph in the Beresford Stakes at this venue.

He went on to fill the runner-up spot behind subsequent 2000 Guineas hero Kameko in the rescheduled Vertem Futurity Trophy at Newcastle in early November, but has not been seen in competitive action since.

The Galileo colt is a full-brother to stablemate High Definition, who also won the Beresford Stakes as a two-year-old but has so far failed to run up to expectations at three – finishing third in the Dante at York, but disappointing when favourite for the Irish Derby.

Innisfree is one of 13 horses declared for the 10-furlong Group Three, with the Joseph O’Brien-trained Royal Ascot runner-up Visualisation and Johnny Murtagh’s Irish Derby fourth Earlswood chief among his rivals.

Mick Halford is looking forward to saddling the lightly-raced Kalapour, Finans Bay and outsider Bear Story.

He said: “Kalapour is a lovely, big horse who is progressing. I think he’ll love the Curragh and we’re hoping for a good run from him.

“He has a bit to find on ratings, but his last run at Killarney has worked out very well – the winner (La Petite Coco) advertised the form very well by winning the Group Three in Cork on Saturday, so it was a big ask for our horse having to give her a lot of weight.

“Finans Bay ran a blinder the last day (close sixth in International Stakes) and again we’re chasing a bit of black type for the family. Conditions and trip and everything should be ideal for him.

“Bear Story is rock solid and hasn’t had much luck this year – he’s always running into one or two.

“His owner-breeder has got the family and he’d like to have a crack at a black type race and see how we go.”

A bumper eight-race card gets under way with the Listed Finlay Volvo Curragh Stakes for two-year-olds.

The standard is set by Jim Bolger’s Strapped, who was not beaten far into fifth place in last weekend’s Group One Phoenix Stakes, while Ger Lyons runs Down Royal debut winner Head Mistress.

George Boughey sends the unbeaten Zebelle from Britain following narrow wins at Ripon and Thirsk.

The Profitable filly won for Amy Murphy on her introduction before changing hands for 42,000 guineas last month and doubling her tally in Yorkshire a week ago.

He said: “She’s in good form. The plan was always to try to get some black type with her and this looks a good opportunity.

“I think she’ll stay six furlongs, so a stiff five at the Curragh should suit her.

“We’ll test her black-type credentials and see how we go.”

Sinawann makes seasonal bow in Glencairn contest

The high-class Sinawann makes his belated reappearance in the Glencairn Stakes at Leopardstown on Thursday.

Mick Halford’s charge has won twice from seven career starts to date, including a Group Three triumph in the Amethyst Stakes over this course and distance last summer.

The Kingman colt has also run some excellent races in defeat – placing in Group races won by Mogul and Armory, finishing sixth last year’s Irish 2,000 Guineas and beaten a short head by Safe Voyage on his latest appearance in September’s Boomerang Mile at this venue.

Sinawann’s comeback has been delayed by injury and his trainer admits he will be better for the outing.

Halford said: “He had a setback over the winter, so we’re late getting him going, but he’s in great form.

“He’s ready to start, (but) he’s quite a lazy horse at home, so it will take a run to see where we are with him.

“He’s strengthened well over the winter, we’re pleased with him and we’re looking forward to getting him going.”

Sinawann is among 10 runners declared for the first of two Listed events on Thursday’s card, with Johnny Murtagh’s Naas scorer Fourhometwo, Jim Bolger’s Tetrarch Stakes winner Lunar Space and the Ger Lyons-trained course-and-distance victor Ebeneezer Perry among his rivals.

Listed honours are also up for grabs in the Nijinsky Stakes, which has attracted a field of eight.

Donnacha O’Brien’s Fernando Vichi just about sets the standard after finishing third behind Saturday’s Cazoo Derby favourite Bolshoi Ballet in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial last month.

Bolshoi Ballet’s trainer, Aidan O’Brien, is represented by course and distance maiden winner The Mediterranean, who also has the option of running at Epsom this weekend.

Joseph O’Brien is double-handed, with Max Mayhem and Ruling both worthy of respect in an open contest.