SHAMROCK Sat: It’s the moment many will have been waiting for, as Flat racing returns with the Irish Lincolnshire meeting from the Curragh.
With little current form on offer it’s likely to be a meeting where notebooks should be at the ready and a watching brief taken. However, we’ll aim to pick through the card and offer a few selections that may be worth chancing on Saturday.
⭕ An eight-race card begins with a 5f maiden (1:40pm) and with all 11 runners making their debuts it’s a race to tread carefully. Jim Bolger won the first renewal of this race in 2021 and has two runners in this, with Expecto running in the trainer’s own colours. However, it might be Spanish Cara, a Raven’s Pass filly and the mount of Rory Cleary, that could be up to making a fast start to her racing career.
⭕ A 5f handicap (2:15pm) follows. On likely heavy ground it will be interesting to see which side of the course runners favour. The Highway Rat and Saliteh both had form at a higher level last season and could be of interest back into handicap company, but Laugh A Minute won this race last year off a seven-pound higher mark and looks to have been primed for a repeat after a run at Dundalk last month.
⭕ The fillies’ & mares’ maiden (2:50pm) over 7f may prove easier to solve. There was lots to like about the debut of Bold As Love at Leopardstown in October, when she looked to be beaten by a smart filly in the form of Dermot Weld’s Tarawa. Donnacha O’Brien’s Deep Impact filly holds an entry in the Irish 1000 Guineas and this could be a good seasonal starting point for her.
⭕ Race four is the Irish Lincolnshire (3:25pm), the feature on the card, run over a mile on the straight course. County Dublin-based trainer Adrian McGuinness has certainly targeted this race and fields nine of the 27-strong field. Many of his runners look to hold chances, but perhaps the most interesting is Finians Bay, the mount of Declan McDonogh. This son of Kodiac has only recently transferred from the Micky Halford stable, but ran well enough on his first start for his current yard at Dundalk two weeks ago. He went close in a big Curragh handicap off a mark of 102 in September 2021, and also has winning form on heavy ground, so looks of strong interest lining up with 10 pounds less on his back.
⭕ High-quality action follows, with the Group 3 Park Express Stakes (3:57pm) over a mile. While her rivals have achieved more in higher company already, Aidan O’Brien’s filly Delightful might be the one to concentrate on. She is one of only two runners in here to hold a Group 1 entry, and as an impeccably bred daughter of Galileo, out of exceptional dam Lillie Langtry, she could prove to be the best of his bunch.
⭕ There’s little form to go on in 7f maiden (4:32pm). Dermot Weld’s Livio Milo ran well in two starts last season, improving on the second of those to go down narrowly in a 7f maiden on soft ground at Leopardstown. That experience should stand him in good stead. Ballydoyle’s Broadhurst is likely to be popular, but may be vulnerable to a stronger stayer like Livio Milo in the closing stages.
⭕ The mile handicap (5:07pm) is another hard race to weigh up. Tourgar Raude finished a good third on testing ground in October 2021 behind two rivals that have gone on to be rated far higher, and hasn’t had much racing since. On the basis of that run, this lighty raced son of Iffraaj should have the potential to do better at some point, and it could be worth chancing today is the day.
⭕ The finale, a 6f handicap (5:37pm), could go the way of Willie McCreery’s Cnodian, who ran well first time up last season and remain competitively weighted, especially with claimer Jessica Maye taking off a handy 10 pounds.