Alex Hammond: She's a Diamond

  • By: Alex Hammond
  • Last Updated: July 17 2014, 19:09 BST

It’s a classic weekend over the Irish Sea with the fillies bidding for an important win in the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh.

  • Diamond Creek: Fancied by Alex to land the Super Sprint (Sal Smithson - www.richardfahey.com)
  • Tapestry is Alex's fancy for the Oaks 

Unfortunately, Oaks winner Taghrooda misses the race as connections have decided to take on the colts and older horses in the King George next weekend instead.

That leaves owner Sheikh Hamdan with Tarfasha to sport his famous blue and white silks - but she’s not a bad substitute!

The Dermot Weld trained daughter of Teofilo was runner-up in the Oaks at Epsom to the absent Taghrooda with another of the placed runners, Volume, also reopposing.

Tarfasha has done little wrong to date and is pretty versatile ground-wise although on previous evidence she probably wouldn’t want it too soft at this level.

Volume is trained by Luca Cumani and has improved with each run. She is genuine, but it’s tough to make the running in these types of races and they are tactics that seem to suit her well. I also worry it will just stretch her out a bit too much against some strong stayers.

She made the running to win at Newbury over 10 furlongs on her penultimate run and was soon out in front at Epsom. Mind you with a host of runners from Ballydoyle she may not be unchallenged for the lead, which will make life hard.

   

"AP keeps achieving the seemingly impossible and yet is one of the most down to earth sportsmen there is. In the Sky Sports Studios this week my usually football oriented colleagues said they feel he is one of the finest sportsmen of our time."

 

Marvellous is one of five in this for Aidan O’Brien and she will be reunited with Ryan Moore who was on board for her Irish 1,000 Guineas win. She was subsequently a beaten favourite, finishing sixth at Epsom under Joseph O’Brien having not looked comfortable doing down the hill.

Interestingly though she does wear the blinkers for the first time on Saturday which might just sharpen her up. She is yet to run on ground faster than good, but while it’s currently good to firm at the Curragh there is a fairly significant amount of rain forecast there before Saturday so it shouldn’t be too fast.

Bracelet (Colm O’Donoghue) is another of the O’Brien runners and she’s no slouch herself although she was beaten at her only other try at this level when down the field in the Guineas.

However, she put that behind her with a step up to this mile and a half trip when winning the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot where the extra distance and the fitting of a hood helped her cause.

Jockey bookings from the stable are clearly significant and Tapestry has been shortened in the market with the news that Joseph O’Brien takes the ride.

Her juvenile form stands up to the closest scrutiny, but she started her Classic season in the worst possible way by finishing last in the Guineas despite being sent off favourite. She put up a much better performance in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot though finishing sixth in the one mile Group One. She met trouble in the last half furlong there and wasn’t given a hard time once her chance had gone.

   

This is her first try beyond a mile, but being by Galileo hopefully she will have some of his stamina. The dam’s side of the pedigree appears to be an influence for speed rather than out and out stamina, but she stayed a mile well as a two year old and I think there is the potential for further improvement from Tapestry over this trip.

It may be that she drops to 10 furlongs at some point this season, but I’m keeping everything crossed that Joseph has made the right choice and that she stays well.

So Joseph O’Brien will be riding Tapestry and it’s a red-letter day for his younger sister Ana who will break new ground by becoming the first female jockey to ride in the race. She will be on board father Aidan’s 40/1 shot Beyond Brilliance, a filly she knows well having ridden her on all her last nine starts.

They look to have it to do as it’s a big step up in class, but hopefully she’ll have a memorable day.

Seamie Heffernan rides the final runner from the stable - he’s on Palace.

So, whilst this race has lost some of its gloss due to the absence of the John Gosden-trained Oaks winner, that move does at least throw the race open and with Aidan O’Brien having a good record in the race I think he can take it again and with Tapestry.

 

"If you think I feel the pressure of finding a tip seven days a week, this takes it to a whole new level. Having gone close in the past (and I’m sure I beat Richard Fahey one year?!) the pressure is on to prove I can cut it against some of the sport’s finest."

 

At Newbury there is the annual puzzle that is the Weatherby’s Super Sprint.

The annual five furlong dash is for juveniles bought as yearlings at public auction at specified sales or as two year-olds up to and including March 1st of this year who did not cost more than £47,500 or £50,500, depending on sales dates.

Sorry to get ‘jargony’, but basically it is for cheaply-bought horses and they are given weight allowances the less money they cost.

This is a race the Richard Hannon stable have had plenty of success in. Hannon is well represented with five runners including Queen Mary second and top-weight, Tiggy Wiggy, all-weather maiden winner L’Etacq, recent Salisbury runner up Be Bold, Windsor Castle also ran Flyball and Listed placed Parsley.

However, last year’s winning trainer, Richard Fahey, is giving it another good go and he saddles six-furlong Catterick maiden winner Tachophobia, Spirit of Zeb who looked to get outstayed over six furlongs last time out,

Paul Hanagan’s mount Diamond Creek who only has 8st 1lb but finished last in a Group Two at the July meeting last time out, Bond’s Girl who finished mid-division in the Albany and another of the protagonists, joint bottom-weight, Realtra, who has some good form although the last two runs have been over six furlongs.

There is some smart form on offer as you’d expect for this valuable prize and, of the runners from those two yards, I like Tiggy Wiggy and Diamond Creek. Richard Hughes rides the former and it’s always a positive to see Hanagan on a Fahey runner.

Harry’s Dancer is another lightly weighted runner for John Quinn who has booked a decent lightweight jockey in veteran Jimmy Quinn. She ran in the Queen Mary last time out.

It’s a tricky race to be confident in, but the booking by Richard Fahey of his former stable jockey for Diamond Creek catches the eye and I hope he gives us a favourable mention for the filly when he writes his preview for the weekend!

   

Staying at Newbury and all eyes will be on Al Kazeem in the Doom Bar Stakes.

The Roger Charlton trained six year old has returned to training after proving sub-fertile at stud and this will be his first run since last October’s Arc.

He hasn’t run outside Group Company since his handicap days in May 2011 so this should be a gentle reintroduction to racing. He had a magnificent season in 2013 winning four races, three of them at the highest level. The ground may not be ideal unless the thunderstorms materialise, but ahead of bigger targets later in the season he ought to show up well. He has won after a decent absence in the past and that isn’t a concern and his trainer has his horses in top form at the moment.

At Market Rasen the AP McCoy bandwagon looks likely to march on after the nineteen time champ broke a personal record at Uttoxeter this week. He rode his 4,191st career winner to draw level with his friend and mentor Martin Pipe.

He keeps achieving the seemingly impossible and yet is one of the most down to earth sportsmen there is. In the Sky Sports Studios this week after his win on the Jonjo O’Neill trained On The Record, my usually football-oriented colleagues said they feel he is one of the finest sportsmen of our time, as a racing fan we have always known that, but it’s great to see him transcending the sport.

Forget the Darley Irish Oaks though - from the weekend and over the following eight days it’s all about the Go Racing in Yorkshire Summer Festival which kicks off at Ripon’s garden course on Saturday.

If you think I feel the pressure of finding a tip seven days a week, this takes it to a whole new level!

Having gone close in our tipping competition in the past (and I’m sure I beat Richard Fahey in it one year?!) the pressure is on to prove I can cut it against some of the sport’s finest.

I dedicate hours trying to find winners for this prestigious competition so this is the time to pay close attention to all of our tips because we will be studying form and pestering all our contacts (I presume that means we’ll all be ringing Richard Fahey...). 

Joking aside, it’s all for charity and Sky Bet have donated thousands to good causes through it in the past. There is the not inconsiderable sum of £4,000 to stake this time round so wish me luck! You will be able to follow how our selections get on at www.sportinglife.com/racing, www.skysports.com and www.skybet.com.

For more information, click here:

Selections:

Tapestry in the Darley Irish Oaks @ 8/1 with Sky Bet

Diamond Creek in the Weatherby’s Super Sprint