After a disappointing start to the Racing League, Team Ireland enjoyed a double on week two at Doncaster and head to Lingfield on Thursday in good form.
The Irish, represented by brothers Joseph and Donnacha O’Brien, recorded victories with Night of Romance and Moon Daisy to move onto a total of 106 points, 16 behind leaders Racehorse Lotto.
Waterlogging on the turf track at Lingfield has seen the meeting switched to the all-weather, causing some late changes to the line-up for Ireland.
Talbot, making his debut for Joseph O’Brien, drops back to six furlongs in the opening race for three-year-olds, having been last tried over a mile.
Irish Acclaim, making his third consecutive appearance in the competition, steps back up to six furlongs for race two after finishing down in eighth in the five-furlong contest at Doncaster, while French Rain also returns having been seventh at Newcastle on week one.
Music To My Ears and Easily are at opposite ends of the weights for races four and five, respectively, and arrive after winless spells but have bits of promising form, while Sligo winner Powerful Aggie makes just her fifth career start.
Racing manager Kevin Blake, who will travel over for his first experience of the new team-based competition this week, has given the lowdown on Ireland’s six runners at Lingfield…
Race 1 (5.38) – Talbot
“I couldn’t be 100 per cent sure what his best trip is as he gives mixed messages.
“The plan had been to start him over seven furlongs but changes this week have moved the pieces around the board a little bit.
“Whatever his trip proves to be, we were very keen to get him back on the all-weather because he only ran on it once on his debut at Lingfield and he was really impressive there.”
Race 2 (6.08) – Irish Acclaim
“He comes in as our super sub because we were a bit light in the sprinting division.
“He’s a rock solid horse who is versatile on surface and trip. We didn’t necessarily think we’d be running him in each of the first three weeks of the competition but a couple of our other sprinters have had little hold-ups so he’s back in the mix.
“Back on the all-weather and back to six furlongs will suit him. It might be a bit ambitious to hope he’ll be involved in the finish but hopefully he’ll run well and come back sound.”
Race 3 (6.38) – French Rain
“She was a real disappointment on the first night of the competition. She’d come into it off the back of a really good run at the Curragh.
“The race just went wrong. She’d always appreciate cover and on that night there was a strong headwind. David [Egan, jockey] got cover early but it evaporated on him and was left stranded out in the middle.
“We’re happy to forgive that and go again.”
Race 4 (7.08) – Music To My Ears
“She’s been a small bit disappointing this season but if you look back to last year, she won a valuable handicap at the Curragh.
“It was much more like it at Gowran Park last time. She was quite free at the start of her career but she’s been much more settled recently so a mile should be her best trip.
“She should, fingers crossed, be finishing off her race really well.”
Race 5 (7.38) – Easily
“This is Donnacha’s only runner of the night. He’s had two so far, with one winner and another that went well so he’s been using his bullets very well.
“Easily’s last run looks disappointing but she slipped up coming around the bend so we won’t judge her too harshly on that.
“Her handicap debut at Naas was very promising and she has the pedigree to be much better than her rating.”
Race 6 (8.08) – Powerful Aggie
“I like this filly. She’s been shaping in her early runs that she’ll want a bit further and Joseph has steadily stepped her up.
“At Sligo, the one thing you don’t want to happen is get caught wide and she did, but still managed to win.
“I think the handicapper was fair with his initial assessment of her. She lacks in experience but three-year-olds have been doing well in the Racing League so far. She’s definitely interesting.”