Irish Eyes: Must follow
Our Irish Eyes column is back with the best bets for Leopardstown's valuable meeting this afternoon.
Over the winter, Willie Mullins was the go-to man but ever since Cheltenham, Dermot Weld has taken over the mantle of red-hot trainer and his string remain in unbelievable form racking up another four winners from his most recent six runners. He now boasts 28 winners from 66 runners in Ireland this season and a 42.5% strike rate, which is quite phenomenal, even by Willie Mullins standards and that is saying something!
Weld has farmed the Amethyst Stakes in recent years, having won three of the last four renewals with Famous Name. This year he relies on a three-year-old in Mustajeeb.
At first glance it would appear that the Amethyst is a difficult race for members of the classic generation to win but further research reveals that you have to go back as far as 2008 to find one three-year-old that has contested this race. As far as today’s race is concerned, Weld appears to have found a horse with exactly the right profile, on paper in any case.
Mustajeeb is the rated just 2lbs off the top rated horse in the field, Brendan Brackan, yet his three year old allowance means he receives 16lbs from the Ger Lyons inmate and is thereby a stone well in with him. In fact, he is in receipt of a minimum of 10lbs from each of the runners in the race and therefore he simply has to run to form to continue Weld’s excellent record in the Amethyst.
Lightly raced, he had a ‘quiet’ run at The Curragh before running out a good winner at Galway. On his final start at two, he finished second to Dewhurst winner War Command in a Group Two and he looks progressive. He holds entries for the Irish 2000 Guineas, the St. James’s Palace Stakes and both the Irish and English Derby so he is obviously very well thought of. The only negative is that he has drawn the widest gate of all in eleven and whilst Leopardstown is a difficult track to ride well, Pat Smullen is the man you want on board in such a scenario. Mustajeeb get the nap.
John Oxx is another in-form trainer with four winners from his last eight runners (the other four were all placed too!) and his diminutive Stars So Bright looks set to be a popular choice in the Group Three 1000 Guineas Trial, particularly from stall one.
Stars So Bright showed a very good turn of foot on her only start to-date. However early evidence suggests that most progeny of Sea The Stars are better on good ground and the weather forecast suggests that Leopardstown may be softer than the current good description before racing starts and that might just blunt her speed. One filly that has already proven she acts on softer going is the Aidan O’Brien-trained Palace and she may prove the safer bet, all things considered.
Like Stars So Bright, Palace is entered in the Group One Pretty Polly Stakes and the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot. Aidan and Anne-Marie actually bred this filly themselves and she is a half-sister to Mystical Lady who won a Listed race for the O’Brien’s and produced Friday’s Dee Stakes winner Kingfisher. At the likely prices, Palace appears as the safer option for today race.
In the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial, O’Brien’s Geoffrey Chaucer looks set to go off favourite but last year’s Beresford winner won’t have things all his own way in a competitive renewal, especially having to concede a 3lb penalty. The obvious horse to beat is Dermot Weld’s Fascinating Rock particularly as the vibes are that he has improved again from his Ballysax win last month.
Next Best: Palace, 3.25 Leopardstown