The All-Ireland football final on Sunday means a day off for Irish stable staff – or at least a day of not having to go racing – and we have a curious situation of just one fixture over the two days this weekend. The Curragh, which hosts Saturday’s card, is coming along nicely in its redevelopment – but the shambles that is the parade ring not being big enough and having to be constructed again is a shocker of an own goal for the project.
It seems improbable that this will be sorted for the start of the 2019 season.
A 26-runner handicap takes place on Saturday. Patrons at Flat Headquarters here can see for themselves the problems the new parade ring has in such circumstances.
Perfect Tapatino is probably one of Ireland's best-handicapped horses.
By the Sadler's Wells son Perfect Soul, he is a brother to three winners including Billy's Star, a stakes winner in Canada, and a half-brother to Grade One turf winner Internallyflawless.
His trainer, Damien English, reckoned he had the potential to improve markedly in handicaps, before he switched to Joseph O'Brien, for whom he was a wildly eye-catching third on debut at Leopardstown.
He was trading around 4-7 at Ballinrobe subsequently, but the race was called off.
While he got 2lb for his run at Leopardstown, and clearly plenty can go wrong in a 26-runner handicap, he should win this bar a fall for Joseph and Donnacha O’Brien.
Sirjack Thomas moved to Johnny Murtagh’s yard from Madeline Tylicki in the off-season and he has continued to improve.
A heavy-terrain winner at two, it was good to yielding when he won at Sligo in June and he did not seem quite as effective on good to firm in August at Leopardstown, yet he ran a really game race to chase home Ice Cold In Alex, the in-form winner.
The handicapper has kept him on 89 and this Irish Cambridgeshire probably was on the agenda ever since.
A tough, consistent and likeable three-year-old, he is one who looks to have more potential than most of these to progress in handicaps, and trying a mile ought to bring about more progress.
Crucially, there is a bit of ease in the ground too. Murtagh's 23 winners on Turf this year in Ireland is already his best ever, with plenty more to come.