GO Big on the O’Brien three-year-old in the opener. A competitive sprint handicap, but Charles O’Brien’s BIG GOSSEY is a youngster on his way up and he must have a few more races in him off his current mark after only two handicaps starts.
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Sent here for both starts this season, he won his handicap debut quite snugly from a bunch of subsequent winners and just lacked the toe for five when third last time. He’s back up to six here and he should get a good run up the rail from stall 22 — he can provide connections with a welcome Champions Weekend winner.
Tide Of Time is another with a bit more up his sleeve now that he tackles six furlongs again for the first time since his third here just over a year ago. He’s been showing up well over shorter, but the move back to six should see him throw down a big challenge.
Mr Lupton was much more like it at Ripon last time, Romantic Proposal will be flying at the finish with her proven ability to stay further and Nordic Passage still has something to show off a career high mark.
THUNDERING NIGHTS can strike. Joseph O’Brien’s filly upset the Jessie Harrington party when toppling her Albigna in the Snow Fairy and she can do the same to the yard’s big hopes Cayenne Pepper and One Voice here in the Blandford too. She looks ready to take another step up.
Ger Lyons’ Lemista had One Voice in behind when winning here in July, but the Harrington filly did not get to give her running.
Blocked in on the rail all the way up the straight, she is best judged on her Group 1 exploits since. She’s the one the tip has to beat.
FAN favourite Make A Challenge loves it here at The Curragh, but Nunthorpe runner-up QUE AMORO may just be too quick for him with the clock backing up her stellar York run.
She’d looked to be fast improving in Listed heats beforehand, but the way she put it up to Battaash there will have left Michael Dods with no option but to believe he has another incredibly fast filly on his hands.
Dods knows exactly what he’s doing with a filly of this calibre and this can be the springboard to many more Group 1 prizes.
A’Ali was two places behind at York, but his win over Make A Challenge before that brings him into this. Colin Keane has been the go-to for all sorts of yards from the UK this weekend and he has picked up another belter here.
Liberty Beach has to be respected and Glass Slippers usually peaks in the autumn.
SIT Pretty in the Moyglare with this Gorgeous filly. She beat Shale and Mother Earth here last time and I see no reason why PRETTY GORGEOUS shouldn’t do so again.
This looks a rematch between the top two from last month’s Debutante Stakes. Donnacha O’Brien’s Shale is probably the better value with Ryan Moore up for the first time and having beaten the selection the time before, but in a truer run race she proved to be no match for Joseph O’Brien’s filly.
Pretty Gorgeous is short enough in the market now, but there is no getting away from her chances — she is by far the most likely winner.
Away from the favourite, Oodnadatta appeals most. She is only a sporting pick given the likelihood that the market has this spot on.
BE Lucky in the National Stakes. There are plenty of smart prospects in here all vying for favouritism and that is music to my ears as a huge fan of Jessica Harrington’s LUCKY VEGA.
He faces the sternest test of his career tackling two of the best prospects from the two powerhouses of racing, but he’s already beaten one of them and their prominence in the market only helps to make him the standout value.
He obliterated his rivals in the Phoenix here last month, showing the sort of finish that marks him out as one that will excel over this trip. With his turn of foot such an advantage, the faster they go the better.
Battleground is passed over in favour of Master Of The Seas as the one to fear most. Charlie Appleby has won this for the last two years too and he has had this one earmarked for this since he bolted up in a Newmarket Group 2 in July.
Of the remainder, don’t rule out a big run from Joseph O’Brien’s Thunder Moon.
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Dermot Weld’s Search For A Song capitalised on a steady pace here last year under Chris Hayes, but I don’t think lightning will be striking twice if TWILIGHT PAYMENT maintains his current momentum.
The seven-year-old has been in dominant form at the track this season, winning the Vintage Crop and the Curragh Cup a month later. He was imperious last time, coming home eight lengths clear of a smart stablemate.
Wayne Lordan will be more than happy to make all on him if this turns tactical.
Fujaira Prince’s Ebor win has been franked since, but he still needs to step up a bit to meet this level.
Ryan Moore rides last year’s Irish Derby winner Sovereign and there could be more to come from him as a stayer.
Aidan O’Brien’s other runner Passion is unexposed over this trip and Micro Manage is interesting after a promising reappearance in the trial for this last month. He can hit the frame at the very least.
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