The Tony Martin-trained Laganore looks the one to beat in today’s Group 3 Blue Wind Stakes at the Curragh.
The home of the Irish classics opens its gates to the public for the first time in 2017, in the middle of its redevelopment programme, with temporary facilities set to cater for racegoers’ needs as the demolition of the old stands continues before the building phase of the development kicks in.
But, while the site has a very different look, the unique track remains untouched and, not sued since last October, looks in great nick ahead of the weekend action, with the Guineas Festival just two weeks away.
The ‘Blue Wind’, traditionally at Naas, is today’s feature. And Laganore, the highest-rated in the field, sets the standard following an encouraging seasonal debut run at Gowran Park recently.
Progressive last season, Tony Martin’s charge ended 2016 with a convincing, four lengths win in the listed Pride Stakes at Newmarket in October.
And, now a five-year-old, she gave every indication at Gowran two weeks ago, in the listed Victor McCalmont Memorial Stakes, that she’ll be better than ever this season.
She held every chance at the furlong-pole before apparently tiring and finishing third, beaten a length and a half, behind Somehow, which franked the form by winning the Group 3 Dahlia Stakes in Newmarket last week and is now being mentioned as a possible ‘Lockinge’ contender.
Pat Smullen is a significant booking for Laganore, which is expected to confirm Gowran form with Beautiful Morning (fourth), representing in-form Jessica Harrington, Creggs Pipes (fifth) and Turret Rocks (sixth).
Night Of Glory, beaten a neck by Chronicles on his recent debut in Navan, makes plenty of appeal in the Where Champions Are Made Maiden over a mile and a quarter.
A son of Sea The Stars, trained by Michael O’Callaghan, this fellow was sent off at 33/1 in Navan, but ran a race full of promise, staying on late to be beaten narrowly, with subsequent winners Act Of Valour and Homesman filling third and fourth spots respectively.
Entitled to improve from that run, Night Of Glory should be tough to beat and gets the nod over Thunder Crash and Ballydoyle newcomer Wisconsin.
And Madame Cherie, runner-up to Hydangea on her debut last season before contesting a ‘Group 3’ on this track, makes plenty of appeal on her seasonal debut for Jessica Harrington in the concluding fillies maiden.
This First Samurai filly faded late to finish sixth behind Sea Of race and Eziyra in the ‘Flame Of Tara’ on her second juvenile start and withdrawn from a recent engagement at Tipperary when the ground turns soft, she has a lot going for here here.
2.10.Yulong Gold Fairy
2.45.US Navy Flag
4.30.Night Of Glory (Nap)
2.45.Its My Turn
3.20.Treaty Of Venice
Double : Laganore and Night Of Glory.
O’Hehir’s Longshot : William Ashford (5.05.)