Wannabe can be best in Express
Man On The Spot previews all of the action from the Curragh on the opening day of the Flat turf season.
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Jim Bolger has won this for the past three years. Alainn is by Intense Focus out of a sprint-bred mare and will know her job but Kevin Manning has chosen ALERTNESS, a half-sister to two juvenile winners and out of a mare who scored as a two-year-old in the USA. She can continue the stable's sequence though Initial is by Invincible Spirit out of a Group 1 winner over 7f in Argentina. Beach Belle is also by Invincible Spirit and her dam produced a two-year-old winner last year with her first foal. Bwana is a half-brother to the Lowther winner Silk Blossom and other winning juveniles so he should have plenty of pace but the well-connected Master Planner's pedigree suggests he'll do better over further.
Aidan O'Brien has won this twice in the past six years and The Islander, his only entry at the five-day stage, has an entry in the Irish 2000 Guineas. He's related to five winners including Group 3 winner Empowering. Aerialist cost 400,000 euros which is hardly surprising as he's by Sea The Stars out of a Group 3 winner. Tango Time is related to a host of winners over a variety of distances but ROUSAYAN made a very encouraging debut on soft ground at Leopardstown where he led at today's trip before finding the extra furlong just beyond him. Normal progress can see him take this. Iveagh Gardens missed the break but stayed on nicely at Navan in October and could provide a threat.
SRUCAHAN won this a year ago and though he didn't win again he rarely had the very testing conditions he needs. He's dropped to a fair mark as a consequence and is handed the vote to complete the double. Sassaway began last year on a mark of 47 and ended the campaign almost 40lb higher. She hasn't run since November but is an obvious threat if ready. Master Speaker finished runner-up in a maiden on this card a year ago when trained by Aidan O'Brien but has only run twice subsequently and makes his handicap debut from a high enough mark. Great Minds' second to Shipyard in a Navan maiden was a good effort and though beaten when sent to Redcar for his final run he could hardly be on a much lower mark and won't mind the ground. Sun On The Run made a winning debut on very heavy ground at Cork a year ago so won't mind the conditions though he hasn't been seen since May.
Karl Burke sends Odeliz over from Yorkshire and the Longchamp Listed winner will enjoy the conditions more than most. WANNABE BETTER took some time to lose her maiden tag but ended the last campaign in excellent form winning three times including twice in Listed class. She had Euphrasia behind at Naas in October and is only 2lb worse off so should confirm the form and take this. Three-year-olds have a very good record and Aidan O'Brien has chosen Dance With Another She had today's rival Achnaha almost a length behind off levels here last October but the latter, along with Dermot Weld's Naas winner Vote Often, has to be respected with her allowances.
GO FOR GOAL showed the benefit of his opening run when making all over this trip on soft ground at Cork and looks the type to make good progress this season, starting with this. Pearl Earing impressed when making all on soft ground at Sligo and makes her handicap debut on a reasonable mark. Master Of Time has improved rapidly on Polytrack this year though he's shot up the ratings as a consequence. Calorie showed enough last season to suggest she can get on the scoreboard soon but Intensical didn't quite produce the goods on testing going after a good-ground victory at Roscommon. Fly To The Moon's only victory came on fast going here in July while Pixie Hollow followed a victory in a moderate event at Sligo with a disappointing run when strongly fancied in a Sales race here in August.
Johnny Murtagh has ridden the last two winners so will be hoping to get on the scoresheet as a trainer with We'll Go Walking, who was highly tried after his maiden victory at Gowran in April. Defining Year had been running over hurdles before scoring over 1m4f at Dundalk but the last time he ran over this trip was in this race two years ago where he finished in mid-division. STUCCODOR was in tremendous form at this time a year ago and completed a five-timer on heavy ground at Tipperary in May. He's been running reasonably well over hurdles and doesn't look badly treated. Kevin Ryan sends Trail Blaze from the UK and though he has strong form in competitive handicaps he's unproven on testing ground, a remark that also applies to fellow Yorkshire raider Lord Aeryn. The veteran Beacon Lodge has no problems with this sort of ground and has scored in pattern race company so a mark of 102 shouldn't be a problem. That's Plenty completed a hat-trick on Polytrack late last year but has only had four runs on Turf and has never won. Afonso De Sousa has mainly contested pattern race company and has never been beaten far though he makes his handicap debut with a big weight in very testing ground. Shipyard stepped up from scoring over 5f at Navan to running well in a mile handicap at Leopardstown where the heavy going caused no problems and he looks best of the rest.
Jim Bolger has won this three times in the last five years and relies on Answered, who is by Authorized out of a winning miler. Belisarius was an expensive failure on his last two starts being twice beaten when long odds-on at Navan. But Joseph has chosen him over stablemate Table Rock, who made a good impression when beaten a head by Ebanoran over 7f here in October. Onenightidreamed looks ideally bred for this trip being out of a winning miler but it's the 260,000 euros yearling ALKASSER who is given the nod as he hails from a family with a lot of pace.