It’s day two of Irish Champions weekend, and the action switches from Leopardstown to the Curragh. Managed a cracking two-out-of-three with yesterday’s Irish selections, and for the NAP on Sunday I’m visiting the Group 2 Blandford Stakes for fillies and mares.
It’s an open-looking 4s-the-field affair for this handsome winner’s prize of around 118,000 euros. The mighty AP O’Brien (excellent form at Leopardstown yesterday) has a few shots to fire, most notably perhaps Jackie Oh.
She comes off a career-best at Gowran Park last time at just short of this trip, and it might just have taken connections slightly by surprise. Her chance is undeniable. Lumiere Rock is a horse I like – Joseph O’Brien trains this daughter of Japanese sire Saxon Warrior and she’s kept some pretty hot company over the summer.
Took a Group 3 here last backend and certainly wouldn’t be winning out of turn. However – my eyes turn to Henry Candy’s ARAMINTA, only 4 races (all this term, as a 3-yr-old), and the winner of a Group 3 at Chantilly 56 days ago. Only beaten once – a heavy-ground affair at Goodwood – and stayed this trip at that venue on another, successful, occasion.
Being so lightly campaigned she’s open to any amount of improvement in the hands of her canny, vastly experienced handler, and it does the confidence no end of good to see that the magnificent Colin Keane has been booked to ride.
It was Gerald Mosse in France, so entirely appropriate that another native champ is on board for this, her biggest test to date. Won a shade cosily across the Chanel, and I’m very hopeful that this major prize is about to be plundered by the daughter of Gleneagles, who took the Irish 2000 Guineas here almost a decade ago.