Trading Leather’s win in the Silver Stakes at The Curragh on Sunday has really thrown the cat amongst the pigeons as far as the Irish Derby goes and if everything goes well for him and the likes of Ruler Of The World, Libertarian and Sugar Boy, this year’s Irish blue riband could be a cracker jack renewal.
Aidan O’Brien, trainer of English Derby hero Ruler Of The World, has taken the unusual but refreshing stance of informing the racing world that the Galileo colt is likely be his only runner and that insight really ignited punters who immediately made him a shorter favourite than he already was.
Sometimes O’Brien has employed what I call the ‘scatter gun approach’ in big races where I’m not absolutely convinced that Ballydoyle knows exactly who is their number one candidate, but when he just has one engaged, I firmly believe that they are usually the real deal and hard to beat.
This week Leopardstown hosts the Group 3 Ballyogan Stakes on Thursday and I think that Sir Henry Cecil’s grey speedster Tickled Pink might be able to conduct a successful overseas raid for the master of Warren Place.
My selection disappointed at York last time for no apparent reason, but as you know I am always prepared to allow a horse one bad run and it was her first outing on the Knavesmire, which is not a venue that all horses enjoy.
Before that I had been very impressed with her victory at this level in the Abernant Stakes at Newmarket’s Craven Meeting in April, when she made all under jockey Tom Queally with the pair well in command over a furlong out.
Cecil never brings horses to Ireland for a day out and of his seven runners in the last five seasons, two have won, including Chigun, his sole contestant here this season who won the Abu Dhabi Stakes at The Curragh last month, with three others being placed.
Tickled Pink apparently did a sparkling piece of work on Newmarket’s Al Bahathri Polytrack on Saturday and a future engagement in the Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket indicates the high regard the shrewd trainer has for his charge.
Magician will be many people’s idea of a banker at Royal Ascot, which kicks off next Tuesday, so I think Gale Force Ten, runner-up to his stable companion in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, could be a good thing in Wednesday’s Jersey Stakes.
This fellow has been second and fourth on his last two starts in top-class company so a drop to Group 3 grade could be just what the doctor ordered for the three-year-old to return to winning ways.
Sometimes I think a drop back in trip is what a horse wants, but funnily enough in this case I’m not convinced he requires seven furlongs as he stayed on well into second at The Curragh in the final 100 yards. My fancy did win a Listed race over seven furlongs at Dundalk in April and as it’s a stiff seven at Ascot, I don’t think it will be a problem.
After Rafael Nadal justified my confidence in the French Open on Sunday, who can blame me for sticking with tennis and I’m going for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to win the ATP Aegon Championship that begun in Barons Court on Monday at 5-1 at time of writing.
Scottish maestro Andy Murray is a warm favourite having won this tournament in both 2009 and 2011 but he is returning from an injury break which forced him to miss the French Grand Slam.
In contrast Tsonga was a semi-finalist at Roland Garros and any chinks in Murray’s armour could mean exploitation by the Frenchman in the London semi-final.
Now Queen’s Club Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to win
Thursday Leopardstown 7.30pm Tickled Pink
Wednesday, June 19 Royal Ascot 2.30pm Gale Force Ten