Irish Eyes: All set for Australia day
Our man in the Emerald Isle looks ahead to today's action at the Curragh which includes the Pretty Polly Stakes.
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The big race at The Curragh this afternoon is the Euro 200,000 Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes where Tommy Stack's Alive Alive Oh is likely to prove very popular.
She won her maiden and jumped to Listed class at Navan where she was backed from as high as 5/1 in the morning before being sent off the 11/10 favourite and ran out an easy winner from Magical Dream, who has since franked the form in group company.
However, Alive Alive Oh was withdrawn from the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot due to the ground and jockeys are reporting it firm in places again today. Given she is making the leap from Listed class to Group One and the fact that she currently trades at 13/8 favourite, despite serious reservations regarding the ground, it makes sense to choose an each-way selection instead and La Collina, currently a 14/1 shot with Sky Bet fits the bill nicely.
Kevin Prendergast's horses have hit a nice vein of form with three winners from his last eight runners and La Collina is a filly about whom there are no ground worries.
Not only is the favourite unproven on good to firm but the third and fourth choices, Princess Highway and Shirocco Star are both unlikely to be able to put their best hoof forward on the ground so La Collina rates the sound each-way selection.
Earlier in the afternoon, Aidan O'Brien takes the wraps off an impeccably bred son of champions Galileo and Ouija Board in the opening seven furlong maiden.
The dogs have been barking about this horse for some time and despite the fact the Ouija Board has been slightly disappointing as a broodmare thus far, this colt is reputed to be a proper Derby prospect, even at this early stage.
O'Brien targets this race every year as a suitable spot for his stable stars to show us what they are made of and he has recently won in with subsequent Group One winners like Rip Van Winkle, Brian Boru, Roderick O'Connor, Horatio Nelson and Duke of Marmalade.
Lack of experience is the only worry for Australia today but in a 10-runner field, just one horse has had a previous outing, so it is more or less a level playing field as far as experience is concerned.
Australia is confidently expected to give Aussies more reason to cheer, following their win over the Lions yesterday, and gets the nap vote.
There are a few competitive handicaps on the cards today, none more so than the Irish Field Preimer Handicap at 3.05 but the Joanna Morgan trained Moran Gra gets the next best vote following a good run in the Royal Hunt Cup.
His finishing position might not have looked exciting but he was only beaten six and a half lengths by Belgian Bill. Prior to that, he was beaten less than four lengths in a good handicap here, when he was just one placed behind yesterday's big sprint handicap winner, Burn The Boats.
Go back another two runs and he was beaten just over four lengths in the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket off a mark of 100. He has dropped to 95 today and has the excellent three-pound claimer and last year's champion apprentice, Ronan Whelan, on board.
Well drawn, he is primed to run a cracker today and is currently available at 11/1 with Sky Bet.