Our racing expert has four selections from the Curragh and Downpatrick on Sunday.
SLUMMING ANGEL (NAP) (best price 7-2) exhibited a bucket-load of ability on debut at Naas and with just normal improvement, she should play a significant role in the outcome of this similar contest. A little slowly into stride in the early stages at the Co Kildare venue 18 days ago, Edward Lynam’s charge picked up the bit nicely to race just on the heels of the leaders at halfway and although she ran on strongly in the final furlong to be a never-nearer fourth at the finish, it was significant that she beat all the horses around her drawn high only to be foiled by the three that raced over towards the favoured far side of the track. As the winner, Mr Scarlet, is talked in terms of being a pattern horse in waiting by connections, it’s fairly safe to say the standard of the race looks above-average and with the second home, Mayleaf Shine, going on to win easily next time out, that opinion has only grown in stature. On top of the list of positives, the daughter of Exceed Of Excel has a potentially favourable draw right under the stands side rail on stall 13, and if that turns out to be the right side of the track, it’s hard to see her not being in the frame at the very least.
Connections of MR ANTOLINI (best price 5-1) must be pleased with the progression their charge is showing over hurdles and this represents a decent opportunity for him to get off the mark at the third attempt. Running up to the useful Burgas on his first outing over timber back in February, the son of Catcher In The Rye turned in another commendable effort of his most recent outing at Galway last week, finishing strongly to run into third behind the smart pair, All The Answers and Silver Concorde. Having already shown a liking for today’s C&D with a win in a bumper here back in March, that vital experience of this unique track is bound to stand him good stead and he rates a decent each-way bet to hit the frame at the very least.
For the first time since winning the Dewhurst as a two-year-old, AIR FORCE BLUE (best price 11-8) showed the sort of spark at Newmarket last time out that got those closely associated with him at Ballydoyle talking in glowing terms and with those green shoots of recovery firmly set in place, Aidan O’Brien’s charge can start making up for lost time. An expensive flop in the 2000 Guineas on his seasonal return, the son of War Front fared little better on his next start in the Irish version a month later and it was decided after that second reversal that a drop back in trip might turn around his fortunes going forward. Although the bare result suggested otherwise, he may have played a much more significant role in the outcome of the July Cup had he not suffered persistent interference that prevented him getting up a head of steam in the final two furlongs and he’s worth another chance to confirm the promise of that encouraging performance at HQ.
Despite a potentially tricky draw in stall 11, TOTAL DEMOLITION (best price 9-1) has enough qualities to overcome that impost and make a big impact in this competitive-looking handicap. Improving at a rapid rote of knots throughout this season, Thewayouare gelding rounded off a terrific run of results with a performance of some stature at Galway last time out and even though this examination represents another step up the ladder, the time figures he’s been posting suggest he may well be up to defying a further 7lb hike.