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Dublin: 11°C Tuesday 20 April 2021
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Mark your Card: Your best bets for the weekend's racing

We’re off to the Curragh tomorrow for the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes.

Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire/Press Association Images

ONCE AGAIN, THE eyes of the horse racing world will be on County Kildare this weekend for the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes (tomorrow, 16:05).

Nine are expected to go to post in this, a six-furlong Group 1 sprint for two-year-olds.

In recent years, Aidan O’Brien has utterly dominated this contest, winning on seven occasions since 2002. It’s no surprise that Power, one of Coolmore’s classiest prospects, heads the market.

A son of Oasis Dream and a half-brother to superstar mare Midday, Power has shown consistent improvement over his three starts this season. Still unbeaten, his most recent win came at Royal Ascot in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes when he beat Roman Soldier by a neck.

Jeremy Noseda’s colt doesn’t go today, but he is a useful reference point in examining the form. Another of today’s fancies, British raider Frederick Engels, scored a one-length victory over him in the July Stakes at Newbury recently and deserves respect on that line alone.

That run for Frederick Engels was a reassuring step up from his win in the listed Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot and for many, he is the one to watch.

Another British prospect to be aware of is Richard Hannon’s Lilbourne Lad who runs off the same mark as Power. He has already proved his credentials with a three-quarter length reversal over Tough as Nails in a Group Two over course and distance in June. A powerful finisher, expect him to go close.

The most worthy outsider of the bunch is Mick Channon’s Gatepost, son of Footstepsinthesand. Though fifth behind Power in the Coventry, he recovered well after being hampered and forced to switch sides two furlongs out and only finished two lengths short of the winner. With a clear run tomorrow, he could make the frame, but he is likely to find one or two better than him.

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Expect this one to come down to a tussle between the British contenders, with Frederick Engels just shading it from Lilbourne Lad.

Earlier in the afternoon, there are two Group 2 contests to look forward to. In the Royal Whip Stakes (14:35) over 1m2f, Jim Bolger’s Banimpire is a worthy favourite and very difficult to see past.

Though she’s up against the boys tomorrow, Banimpire’s performance in finishing a short-head second to Blue Bunting in the Irish Oaks is the marker which the others will have to beat.

Dunboyne Express has picked up some decent Group 1 experience this season, finishing fifth in both the Irish 2,000 and the Irish Derby. The drop back in class should suit him more than it will Italian Group 1 winner Aoife Alainn, who finished well down the pecking order in the Pretty Polly Stakes in June.

The Fillies’ Group 2 Debutante Stakes goes to post at 15:35 and Aidan O’Brien’s Maybe is the one they will all be out to beat.

Behind her in the betting are the half-sisters Teolane and Remember Alexander. The former will be hoping to put the disappointment of Royal Ascot far to the back of her mind, while the latter has already proven her credentials by finishing second to Power in a maiden before winning a decent Group 3 at Leopardstown two weeks ago.

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Though a bit skinny on price, Banimpire (10/11) should have the class to take the Royal Whip Stakes (14:35).

READ – Fógra: everything you need to know ahead of the weekend’s GAA action >

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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