Although PROJECT BLUEBOOK (best price 7-2) has a victory to his name on soft ground, one gets the impression he’s a much better horse on decent ground and that theory is put to the test in this competitive staying contest. By no means disgraced on his last two starts, both races contested have been strongly-run ones on genuine soft ground, and the combination of those two factors looked to have stretched John Quinn’s charge to the limit. Back on a sound surface, this smooth-mover should be suited by being put to sleep and switched off around this sharp track and as he’s shown in the past, he has a nice turn of pace once woken up in the closing stages.
Although well outpointed by Sharja Queen here the last day, ZAAKHIR (best price 15-2) certainly wasn’t disgraced in defeat and she makes quite a bit of appeal returning to the scene of that creditable performance. Cutting out the running that evening, Charles Hills’ charge must have gone too quick for her own good because the eventual winning time was by some way the best on the seven-race card. Now up in trip, hopefully she will be ridden with a bit more restraint this time around as her time figure, even in defeat, suggests she should be capable of putting up a bold show.
As expected, KORBOUS (best price 4-1) once again needed his first run of the season badly at Leopardstown last time out (terrible record on seasonal debuts), but with that all-important run under his belt, the seven-year can be expected to be a little more competitive this time around. Although it still wasn’t a bad run by any means to finish fourth behind Three Majors at the Dublin track, Richard Brabazon’s inmate quite noticeably tired in the closing stages after looking threatening two furlongs out, but as that was his first run for the thick end of a year, it was quite understandable he faded given the circumstances. Sure to be a good deal straighter following that initial performance, the son of Choisir should be cherry-ripe to go well in the hands of his talent pilot, Oisin Orr.