AZUA EMERY (Gordon Elliott) Her trainer makes fewer mistakes than most of us, yet she disappointed in her initial handicap appearance but perhaps wasn’t quite ready. However she is still only four, and the way she won a mares maiden at Fairyhouse on Thursday suggested that she is starting to get the hang of things. Will be a decent handicapper in time.
BANDUA (Dermot Weld) Won the same race at Cork that Harzand won two years ago. Now nobody is putting him in that league just yet, but for a horse bred for fast ground he skipped over the near unraceable surface at the Mallow circuit with ease. Could be special.
BURGUNDY BOY (Dermot Weld) Ex Sheila Lavery, not disgraced when last of four to Nelson in the Ballysax at Leopardstown. Finished almost alongside Derby prospect The Pentagon and like him, will be a totally different horse on fast ground.
CASTLE NORTH (Willie Mullins) Lost his position at a vital stage and was left with too much to do against impressive bumper winner and highly rated sort Dream Conti. He did reduce the leeway considerably but the winner had got first run. Both look well above average.
U S NAVY FLAG (Aidan O’Brien) Badly needed the outing on ground he hated in the 2,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown. Granted better underfoot conditions at Newmarket he looks a cracking each way bet at 20/1 but hold your fire until nearer the day as he may go for the French Guineas instead. Whichever he goes for he will still be value as it’s likely he will have stablemates more fancied in the betting.
WHO’S STEPH (Ger Lyons) Surprisingly taken out of the Irish 1,000 Guineas at the second entry stage, she won a Guineas Trial over seven furlongs but, despite running up with the pace all the time, she will need a mile at least at the top level. Has only raced with juice in the ground so hard to know if she’d handle fast, but she’s one smart filly and no mistake.
XENOBIA (Willie Farrell) Beat a strongly fancied Weld runner with ease at Leopardstown. Will always be value coming from a small stable and taking on the powerful yards. Totally ground versatile but perhaps best kept to the home circuit as she disappointed in a Listed Race at Ascot.
* Despite a restricted programme, Declan’s Irish Racing Service has been on the ball lately with So Long Marieanne 5/1 (won 5/2); Cuneo 10/3 (w 6/4); Balliniska Band 5/2 (w 7/4); Decision Time 7/4 (w 13/8); Kemboy 6/4 (w 5/4); Bloomfield 11/8 (w 4/5) and Lily’s Gem 5/4 (w 5/6).
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