Johnny Ward's Ireland tips: Prokofiev can hit the right note at the Curragh

By Johnny Ward
Fri 10 Aug 2018

There are four meetings over the weekend here in Ireland to ensure a hectic weekend, while our overseas raiders in Arlington and Deauville will have plenty of supporters at home.

Aidan O'Brien bids for a 17th Phoenix Stakes win, and thankfully Martyn Meade has not shirked taking him on with Advertise!

Saturday tips:

1.50pm Cork – Mount Everest at 6-4 with Betfair and Paddy Power:

It is probably not commented on enough how broke you would be backing Galileo horses on debut for Aidan O'Brien.

They are generally miles off what they can achieve on their second run and it is likely Mount Everest will fit that trend.

Out of the brilliant Breeders' Cup Mile winner Six Perfections, Yucatan's half-brother showed enough when 11-4 at the Curragh in early July to suggest he should win next time.

Aidan O'Brien ran three Galileo-breds on that occasion, with Mount Everest splitting the other two in midfield, Norway and seventh-placed Anthony Van Dyck.

The last-named, a 7-1 chance at the Curragh, has been sensationally impressive in two outings since.

4.10pm Cork – Gunmaker:

Gunmaker failed to score in a nine-run spell for David Simcock, though he managed a head second at Yarmouth just over a year ago off 66 when he was probably a little unfortunate.

On his debut for Gavin Cromwell, he beat the well-in Texas Radio, providing his rider Conor Heavey with his first win, and it was a deceptively easy one off a mark of 62.

In his next run, he was third at Leopardstown, a length behind Ice Cold In Alex, who since shot up the ratings.

He had a shocker of a draw at Galway and that run can be ignored. He makes plenty of each-way appeal here off 69 under Ben Coen for Cromwell.

4.40pm Cork – Finvarra:

As tracks with a front-running bias go, Gowran is right up there, and Finvarra's run at the County Kilkenny track last time merits an upgrade.

Despite breaking well, he found himself in last for much of the race, and was squeezed up around halfway, further upsetting his rhythm.

He was further hampered around the 2f pole, and quite badly so about half a furlong later, before he keept on under a hand ride.

His pedigree is a bit of a mixed bag in terms of trip but he is a half-brother to two winning sprinters and quite a strapping three-year-old who may end up hurdling.

This may not be his ideal distance but chance him at the prices for the Madden stable, which among the winners on Thursday.

7.55pm Kilbeggan – Mindsmadeup:

The Galway Plate victory Mark Enright enjoyed aboard Clarcam was one of the highlights of the summer and he can score again here on Mindsmadeup.

While ostensibly a little frustrating for James Sheehan, a really capable handler, he continues to run well.

He won his maiden hurdle here when trained by Paul Gilligan.

A stronger pace here, now that he runs against better horses, will suit him.

Sunday tips:

3.15pm Downpatrick – Blue Skimmer:

James Lambe got his license back this year after his bankrupcy issues but still awaits his first winner since January 2016.

He has a decent chance here with Blue Skimmer, who was rusty over hurdles when making his handicap debut at Downpatrick in July, and shaped really well.

He could be very well-treated under the excellent Liam McKenna as he gains experience and a good gallop seems relatively assured.

3.35 Curragh – Sergei Prokofiev:

With his stranglehold on the race due to four of the six runners, Aidan O'Brien can call the shots in this contest tactically and Sergei Prokofiev looks a great bet at odds-against.

He probably has one horse to beat, Advertise, and even though he finished behind him in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot I felt he ran a better race.

He had a messy trip and basically flattened out close home, when the the Meade runner passed him out. Expect revenge here.

4.10 Curragh – Spirit Of Valor:

Aidan O'Brien's trick of dropping US Navy Flag in distance to sprinting has worked out a treat with a win in the July Cup and, while Spirit Of Valor is less talented, he should have too much for these.

He has faced tough tasks, notably at Glorious Goodwood, yet here was beaten under two lengths there, and a prominent ride looks on the cards here as he returns to a track where his last two visits yielded a win and a second to eventual Diamond Jubilee winner Merchant Navy.

4.45 Curragh – Little Clarinet:

Little Clarinet is 15lb below her highest winning mark and she seems to be gradually hitting form.

I felt at Naas last time that the race was not run to suit and that she would prefer some cover.

The excellent Donagh O'Connor takes over here in a race that should place ample emphasis on her cruising speed.

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