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Dublin: 4 °C Wednesday 11 December, 2019

Weekend tips: Focusing on the action while 'Arma-Giggin' consequences remain far from a dead cert

At the end of a week in which Michael O’Leary revealed plans to scale back his Gigginstown operation, our tipster Thom Malone looks to the immediate future.

Leopardstown staff put the finishing touches to some ornamental horses before racing this evening.
Leopardstown staff put the finishing touches to some ornamental horses before racing this evening.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Leopardstown staff put the finishing touches to some ornamental horses Leopardstown staff put the finishing touches to some ornamental horses before racing this evening. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

THE WEEK OF ‘Arma-Giggin’ makes looking for flat winners incredibly confusing when every mind and mouth in racing is considering how the future of National hunt racing in Ireland will look.

The loss of the iconic silks from the racing world will be a gradual process but the impact will be felt in the sales arena immediately.

It has been estimated Michael O’Leary’s operation bought as many as 50 horses annually, so a significant loss to Irish National hunt breeders.

CEO of Goffs, Ireland’s biggest sales company, Henry Beeby was at pains to stress the strength of the Irish National Hunt sales market during the week. 

“The National hunt business is remarkably resilient with a number of players at the top who will continue to compete for the best,” he says.

However the loss of such a large single player at short notice will spoil many consignors’ plans. Kevin Blake put it best on ITV Racing during the week; after initially blasting the positive spin he was adamant the phasing out of Gigginstown’s operation “is a negative, it just remains to be seen how much of a negative it will be”.

Daniel Tudhope onboard Laurens (FR) wins the race Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The best of this weekend’s action is the first all-age Group One in the UK, the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury at 3.40. There are two classic winners from last year in the field with Ken Condon’s stable star Romanized and Karl Burke’s filly Laurens. The field here are all rated within a couple of pounds of each other so as it stands none are horses of the calibre of previous winners such as star milers Frankel, Canford Cliffs, Olympic Glory and Ribchester. Laurens danced every dance last year, and the only mis-step was connections asking her to step up in trip at York last summer.

She has proven she can go well fresh having made her debut at the Newmarket Guineas last season, given what we know now she could be classed as an unlucky loser, and she also won on debut as a juvenile. She looks like a filly with physical scope to progress from three to four and a mile on a good racing surface will suit.

She will be ridden prominently and possibly become a target for the rest of the runners, but really she is the only horse in the race who has the potential to become a superstar. She carried all in her division last year, this is an opportunity to prove she can mix it with the grown ups this season.

On Sunday it is Royal Ascot trials day at Naas, the credibility of that title is up for debate but winning connections won’t grumble about free entry into the world’s top races. Lord Grimthorpe is an infrequent visitor to the Co Kildare track, but the man is Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager, and he was on site for the debut of Peace Charter at Naas at the end of April.

He witnessed an encouraging win from this daughter of multiple Grade one winner Emollient. It would be unsurprising if So Wonderful was to go off favourite in the Group three at Naas on Sunday at 3.50, but there were enough signs that Peace Charter will have learned plenty from that experience and will be better for it. A win on Sunday will ensure her trainer, and top class blogger, Ger Lyons has to dig out his top hat and tails to take up a warranted place in Royal Ascot’s Albany Stakes.

Horse Racing - Galileo Futurity Stakes Day - The Curragh Racecourse Trainer Eddie Lynam. Source: Barry Cronin

Sole Power changed the narrative for Irish trained sprinters when landing the Nunthorpe at 100/1 in 2010.

It was a sphere traditionally dominated by English yards who loved to come the Ireland and routinely plunder sprint riches. Sole Power, his trainer Eddie Lynam and then stablemate Slade Power changed that, with connections landing the Royal Ascot Sprint double in 2012 when Sole Power took the King’s Stand and Slade Power took the Diamond Jubilee, the only trainer to do so with different horses.

The fourth race on Sunday’s card is run in Sole Power’s honour and carries his name. Since Sole Power’s heyday, the sprint balance has swung back in Britain’s favour and Final Venture is the top rated in Sunday’s race. Soffia could strike back though. Trained by Lynam, she is the stable star these days. Soffia had to do too much work when narrowing losing out over course and distance and blew up on debut. Final Venture will ensure a strong pace and can carry the strong travelling Soffia into the race.

It’ll obliterate her handicap mark but might book a date with Slade Power next year.

Gavan Casey, Murray Kinsella and Andy Dunne look at Ireland’s past in Super Rugby, the creative shift needed in Irish rugby and Peter O’Mahony tells us about his love of gardening..:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Thom Malone

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