Aidan O’Brien has saddled up 23 winners from 109 runners in the past 28 days, which amounts to a 21% strike and shows us the master at Ballydoyle is in pretty formidable form as we reach a key juncture in the 2018 Flat season. With several interesting runners at Leopardstown this evening, it would be folly to ignore one or two of them for betting purposes, along with one or two trained elsewhere that very much catch the eye tonight.
In the opening 6f maiden for 2yos at 6pm, O’Brien’s NATIONAL GUARD looks very solid and it will take a pretty sharp performance to deny him following up a respectable 4th at the Curragh in late May. Both the 2nd and the 5th in that race have advertised the form with next time out wins and this War Front colt appears to hold all the aces on his third career start. The only newcomer in the race – Hitchslap – will be a huge price here, but has a nice pedigree and is a filly to watch in view of handicaps in the future and indeed, softer maiden races than this one.
Next up is a much bigger field maiden over 7f, this time for 3yos and 4yos, where Jim Bolger’s SCRIOBH NUA has her sights vastly lowered on her third start, having run in the Irish 1000 Guineas last time out. She was out of her depth there, but she improved on her debut 3rd by a considerable margin despite finishing 9th of 13 and all told she should prove really tough to beat. Bolger has trained 8 winners from his last 26 runners, so the yard is flying and this New Approach filly is another solid looking market leader.
St. Patrick’s Day is a horse I don’t know a great deal about, other than he is a brother to US Triple Crown hero American Pharoah, won a 2yo race for legendary trainer Bob Baffert, and now finds himself in the care of Aidan O’Brien. He is a very warm favourite for the 7.05pm Ballychorus Stakes, a 7f Group 3 race which has attracted an interesting field of eight. Given the vast change of scenery and a nine month absence, St Patrick’s Day is worth taking an E/w view against and I’m hopeful MEDICINE JACK could enter the frame at rewarding odds for trainer Ger Lyons. This 4yo ran below par at Newmarket two starts back but that is the meat in the sandwich of two far better runs, including when 3rd off top weight in a decent Gowran handicap over this trip last time out. His record going left-handed reads: 2-1-3, and if putting his best foot forward, the Equiano gelding should run well under Gary Carroll.
The 7.35pm handicap over a mile is a tricky affair. If pushed for a selection, I’d probably just side with course winner Bucky Larson, who held on gamely to break his duck here a month ago.
In the 8.05pm Fitzers Catering Rated Race over 1m2f, CRAFTED JEWEL is of interest for Sheila Lavery. This mare was well-backed to win this very race last year, but she was too keen early on and despite looking the winner for much of the contest in 2017, she could only manage a close-up 4th. A year on, she enters the race at much bigger odds and does have a bit of work on her plate, but she ran very well over a mile at Gowran Park last time out, posting a sound speed rating and if building on that effort here, she shouldn’t be too far away again at the finish, at bigger odds than she was a year ago..
The 8.35pm is a real lottery, so I’m happy to pass that one over in favour of a selection in the Lucky Last at 9.05pm a 1m7f maiden, where the Tom Mullins trained 10yo TOP OTHE RA holds strong claims if bringing his best form to the table. He’s rated 133 over hurdles and the booking of the very promising Finny Maguire catches the eye.
Haydock & Uttoxeter Bonus Evening Treble
6.20 – Fort Jefferson
7.15 – L’Inganno Felice
8.15 – Lion Rouge
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Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.