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Ballyroan Stakes: Runner-by-runner guide to Leopardstown's feature

Wed 5 Aug 2020

Who wins the Group Three feature on Thursday, live on Racing TV at 3.00pm? We put the six contenders under the spotlight in our runner-by-runner guide.

The €50,000 Group Three Bahrain International Ballyroan Stakes is one of three Group Three events on Thursday’s card at Leopardstown which will be shown live on Racing TV.

The 12-furlong event is open to three-year-olds and upwards and boasts a classy roll of honour.

The master of Rosewell House, Dermot Weld, has captured the contest on nine occasions, including with Eziyra in 2018. Two of Weld’s horses have won the event two years in succession; Vinnie Roe (2002 & 2003) and Profound Beauty (2009 & 2010).

This year’s running looks a high-quality renewal with Ballydoyle maestro Aidan O’Brien targeting a sixth victory in the race and his son Joseph O’Brien aiming to record successive victories in the Leopardstown feature.

We have previewed the contest with our runner-by-runner guide which includes some vital form clues.

1. NICKAJACK CAVE

Trainer: Ger Lyons. Rating: 109. Racing TV Verdict: 3/5.

Watch how Nickajack Cave scored last time out

Positives: Represents a trainer who is enjoying a superb year. The son of Kendargent relished the step up to 14 furlongs with a smooth success in the Saval Beg at Leopardstown. He travelled powerfully into the contest on that occasion and whilst this is a slight drop back in trip, he is a live contender.

Negatives: In many ways, his success in the Saval Beg came as quite a surprise given his form in Listed company until then. The drop in in trip could be a slight concern and he has to give weight to the three-year-old Mythical.

Verdict: A serious player. He produced a career-best in the Saval Beg last time out and ran on strongly at the finish. A drop-in trip is not a major concern and he should take high rank.

2. PONDUS

Trainer: Joseph O’Brien. Rating: 107. Racing TV Verdict: 5/5.

Pondus got back to winning ways at Roscommon last time out

Positives: Recorded a first success for Joseph O’Brien on his latest start with a gutsy victory in a Listed event at Roscommon. The form has been franked since with the second, Camphor, winning at Galway last week.

The lightly-raced four-year-old ran a number of fine races in defeat in Group company for James Fanshawe and there is plenty more to come from the son of Sea The Moon for his new trainer. The Melbourne Cup looks a long-term option given he is now owned by Lloyd Williams and he makes plenty of appeal here.

Negatives: Difficult to find chinks in his armour, but he may prefer a bit of cut in the ground. A muddling pace could also be a concern as looks to need every yard of this trip.

Verdict: The most likely winner. His Roscommon win has already taken a form boost and this track and trip look to be a perfect combination for a horse who has bags of talent.

3. RAKAN

Trainer: Dermot Weld. Rating: 102. Racing TV Verdict: 2.5/5.

Watch how Rakan shaped on his seasonal debut in July

Positives: Represents a trainer in Dermot Weld who has won this race a record nine times and is bound to improve for his eye-catching fourth in Listed company at Leopardstown last time out. The son of Sea The Stars boasts course and distance winning form at the track and will take a big step forward from his first outing of the season.

Negatives: The form of that latest run has not really worked out and whilst he still has plenty of scope to improve going forward, he might find one or two too good here.

Verdict: An intriguing contender who is unexposed and not without a chance. However, he needs to take another step forward to challenge the market leaders.

4. SEA THE LION

Trainer: Jarlath Fahey. Rating: 104. Racing TV Verdict: 1/5.

Sea The Lion returned from a 364-day break to finish fourth last time out

Positives: An intriguing runner who boasts plenty of smart handicap form. He shaped with credit after almost a year off at Leopardstown on his reappearance.

Negatives: Whilst he has plenty of solid handicap form, the nine-year-old looks exposed and needs to record a career best.

Verdict: He will need to take a big step forward to win this and is opposable.

5. FRESNEL

Trainer: Jack Davison. Rating: 99. Racing TV Verdict: 2/5.

Fresnel disappointed on her latest start

Positives: Ran a race full of promise on his return to action in Listed company at Leopardstown when a neck second over this trip. She has plenty of consistent form in Group races and also benefits from the fillies’ allowance.

Negatives: Was disappointing on her latest start in Listed company over 10 furlongs at Leopardstown, a race in which Rakan was fourth. That performance leaves questions to answer.

Verdict: Despite being clearly talented, her ninth-placed effort last time out lingers in the memory and she has to improve to take this.

6. Mythical

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Rating: 104. Racing TV Verdict: 3/5.

Mythical was last seen running in the Derby at Epsom

Positives: A fascinating and sole runner for Ballydoyle maestro Aidan O’Brien. He finished third on his final start last term in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud. He never got involved in the Derby when thirteenth at Epsom and that run is easy to forgive given he was slowly away and was nursed home by James Doyle. He is clearly an interesting contender, but the son of Camelot has to prove he retains his enthusiasm for the game this year.

Negatives: He was bitterly disappointing in the Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh when a well-beaten fifth despite starting the 4-5 favourite. Despite forgiving his Derby run, the form of that race has taken a big hit in recent weeks and he does also need to prove he is in the same vein as last year.

Verdict: A very interesting contender. He boasts solid Group One form from his two-year-old career, and he could be the type who will improve as the season progresses. He also gets the three-year-old weight allowance from his five rivals.

BIG-RACE VERDICT:

A small but select field of six make this a fascinating contest.

Mythical has to be of interest for Aidan O’Brien despite disappointing on his first two starts this season in receipt of the three-year-old weight allowance. Dermot Weld knows what it takes to win this race and Rakan is an interesting contender for the master of Rosewell House following an eye-catching comeback run.

However, this could develop into a straight shootout between Nickajack Cave and PONDUS. The former was impressive in the Saval Beg last time out and should not be inconvenienced by the drop-in trip.

Pondus has plenty of smart form next to his name though, and gets the vote on the back of a good win at Roscommon on his latest start.

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