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Johnny Ward's Irish Angle: Shale looks rock solid at The Curragh

By Johnny Ward
Fri 21 Aug 2020

Our Irish racing expert previews the action at Killarney and The Curragh on Saturday, where he thinks the bookmakers have got at least one race all wrong.

They have had plenty of rain at Killarney and stamina will be to the fore for summer jumpers, while it is a little harder to call Curragh conditions. We've had rain in the east of the country, but it can dry out pretty quickly and on Friday we had both wind and warm weather.

It is helpful that some of these good Flat races are priced earlier due to 48-hour declarations, with one of the Curragh events looking - to me - to have been put up all wrong by the layers.

3.25 Killarney: Call His Bluff

This horse should win a handicap. It is worth noting that he had every chance late on in a point-to-point won by West Cork Wildway last year, only to fall; West Cork Wildway will be a raging hot fancy to win the maiden hurdle here, yet Call His Bluff is running off 80.

Two runs ago he was third at Cork, that form working out well, and when he fell on Monday at Tipperary, he was travelling fine in proximity to the eventual first and second. His stable is in excellent form.

3.45 Curragh: Shale

I'd argue Meala is a desperately vulnerable early favourite here as the Galway performance was totally out of kilter with her other runs and market expectations, while this stable's runners can not alway be relied on to back up a previous run.

I expect something else to win and Shale looks a very fair price, having comfortably beaten three of the other six runners here at Leopardstown. Pretty Gorgeous might get closer but Shale is rock-solid and hardy, like her mother and father.

4.00 Killarney: Moyode Gold

James Nash's steeds have been flying high in August and rider Conor McNamara, who has never partnered this one before, is in exceptional form. The main negative is her being 6lb out of the handicap, against which McNamara claims 5lb so she has very little weight on testing terrain.

She should come on from her Galway run, when she shaped really well, probably doing too much too early behind The Trigger and Brogine, both of whom bolted up next time. Considering how much ground she gave up out wide and how poorly she jumped at times, it was a lovely effort. She is lightly raced and bang there on her form earlier this year.

4.45 Curragh: Southern Cape

Another race with a short-priced favourite possibly flattered by the visual impression of a win last time but there is little knocking how good Cadillac looked at Leopardstown, where four of these clashed last time.

On the latter occasion, Van Gogh chased home stablemate Military Style, with Southern Cape never involved. Military Style is by War Front so the rain has to be a concern on paper, while Van Gogh had no obvious Leopardstown excuses. But Southern Cape was very hard to steer hanging right, and was only briefly ridden by Gavin Ryan as the ship had sailed. Out of Tiggy Wiggy, he remains a fine prospect and looks a cracking each-way bet here.

5.45 Curragh: Mandolin Wind

Rookie trainer Leanne Breen has her string in good form. Mandolin Wind won twice on easy ground in France and made a lovely start to life in Ireland over an inadequate five furlongs here. She possibly went too hard in Galway but Oisin Orr will hardly make that mistake and at a price she is a fascinating runner now.

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