Updated 10.06 - all selections online
It has been a frustrating if successful week for Jessica Harrington, with two winners and 12 placed horses since last Monday, including high-profile runner-up finishes at Goodwood for One Voice and Valeria Messsalina, but she may be able to end Galway at least on a high note this afternoon.
Her NJORD went down narrowly in the Galway Mile on Tuesday, but that race has proved a key trial for the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Ahonoora Handicap at 4:20, and though made favourite for today, he is worth backing; he still has all the positives from earlier in the week along with a few new ones that we learned from that race.
A thriving sort since joining the yard, he is well-suited by this track and soft ground, and now has a lower draw than in the Mile, but most of all he gets to compete off his old mark of 98, due to go up six pounds tomorrow. He drops in trip today but the ground being softer will help (it is soft-heavy in places) and the visuals from Tuesday suggest it will not be an issue. As ever in a race like this, there are plenty of dangers, not least Cyrus Dallin with the cheekpieces back on under conditions he relishes, but Njord deserves to be a short-priced market leader.
Harrington also has leading claims in the JPK Fencing Race (5:20) with CAMPHOR. It is a slight concern she hasn’t won in a while, but that is a double-edged sword as it leaves her well-in at the weights, plenty of evidence to suggest she is a Listed filly yet getting weight from lower-rated ones and jumps types.
Her best effort came last backend at Naas and she’s shaped close to that level in four starts this season. The first came when meeting trouble on ground too quick at Leopardstown before running over a trip short of her best at Gowran, while her third run when second to Pondus at Roscommon was excellent despite appearing to lose her action near the finish.
Though well beaten in the Curragh Cup last time, it was her first try at a staying trip and she seemed ridden to achieve third place and black type. I would expect her to be more forward today on ground she likes and over a track she has twice run well at.
The rain overnight has softened the ground further at Galway and that will suit DRAGON OF MALTA in the opening Kenny Galway Handicap 2:45. His form took an uptick when the blinkers went on and getting slow ground last backend, his best two efforts coming on his final two nursery starts of 2019.
He shaped better than the result when second at the Curragh over a mile in late-October, coming from last and having to make his challenge alone on the far side, while his close three-furlong sectional there was the fastest of the three mile races on the card, the other two for older horses, a fair effort for a 63-rated nursery horse.
His next run six days later at this track was even better, going down by a head to the very well-handicapped Meaningful Vote when seeming to find the drop to seven furlongs against him. He was off 64 that day and is down to 62 now, while also going back up to a mile, and though his two subsequent runs were disappointing, they came on faster surfaces.
The most recent of those came at Limerick off a four-month absence, and there was a glimmer of life as he passed a few horses late. The blinkers that were left off then are back on and better can be expected under close to ideal conditions.
Tony Keenan’s next tipping column will be on Sunday, August 8th.
Tony's Best Bets (scale 1-5 points):
0.5pt point each-way DRAGON OF MALTA (8-1 general)
1pt win NJORD (11-4 Paddy Power, betfred, Betfair Sportsbook, 5-2 general)
1pt win CAMPHOR (11-4 bet365, Betfair Sportsbook, William Hill, Paddy Power, 5-2 general)