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Johnny Murtagh: A clash of Derby hopefuls at Doncaster but this 12/1 shot could skate in at Dundalk on Friday night

by Johnny Murtagh | October 23, 2015

A wide open-affair and Pat Smullen is an eye-catching booking for Peleponnesus. But David Marnane’s LAHARDE was second here a fortnight ago and the third horse  – Coreczka  – won here last week.

My own Yulong Baozuo put in an improved effort last week but has been drawn out in stall 12 and that will make it tough for him tonight. I’d be very happy if he found the places. Mick Halford’s SKERRAY RULES looks like a typical improver and there could be more left in the locker.

The 7.05 is a competitive contest and Captain Cullen won at the Curragh recently and heads the weights. Ballydoyle’s Bishan Bedi always runs a solid race but pays for it in the ratings. BACK ON TOP has a nice draw in stall two over this 7f trip and the three-year-old could be open to more improvement than some of the others.

If the 7.35 was run over 6f rather than 5f, I’d be very confident of my own Verrane but there’s no 6f nursery in Ireland for the next three weeks so we’re dropping down to the minimum trip. I’m putting the blinkers on him and hoping Pat Smullen can work some of his magic from stall eight. He won’t be able to keep up with the pace early but hopefully, he’ll come home strong.

Peter Fahey’s JENNIECHILD has the box two draw, is very fast and looks the one to beat.

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The Listed Race (8.05) is the best race on the card and is very competitive. English trainers haven’t missed the 30k first prize as you’d nearly have to win three races in England to get that!

It’s a little surprising to see Gordon Lord Byron out so soon after Ascot but he’s the clear top-rated in the field.

Eisenhower was a bit unlucky last time while Mark Prescott’s two-year-old Marsha bolted up here last week and steps up in grade and age against the three-year-olds.

The one I like though is TAKE COVER who’s been running in the top 5f sprints across the water – without winning. He was a neck second to Muthmir in a Group 2 at Goodwood and third to Sole Power at the Curragh and will appreciate the drop in class.

Dundalk ends with two tough handicaps (as usual) and there may be a bit of value to have with Matthew Smith’s GRETSKY (8.35). He won this race last year and usually improves on the all-weather throughout the winter.

Racing general

There’s a couple of reliable campaigners like Poitin and Shake the Bucket in the lucky last but I’m going to go for Michael O’Callaghan’s MAKNIFICENT who has been crying out for a step up to 10f. He was third in a good apprentice race at the Curragh last time.

Racing Post Trophy, Doncaster, Saturday 1m (3.45pm)

This race usually throws up the contenders for next year’s Epsom Derby and it looks a match between the 1-2 at Newmarket, Foundation and Deauville.

There’s strong vibes coming from John Gosden’s yard about Foundation and Frankie Dettori thinks he has improved again.  Ballydoyle will feel that Deauville will get a bit closer to him this time as he was staying on the last day and they’ll want to make it a good test of stamina which could suit the Gallileo colt.

It’s all about potential at this stage with the two-year-olds in the final British Group One of the season but Hugo Palmer’s Nottingham winner Mengli Khan, Johannes Vermeer and Richard Hannon’s Tony Curtis will all look to take advantage of any weakness in the front two.

Selection: Foundation           Alternative: Deauville

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