Zihba steps up in class at Leopardstown

Sun 13th May 2018, 10:45

©Healy Racing Photos
Fozzy Stack expects to know a lot more about Zihba's capabilities after he runs in the Amethyst Stakes at Leopardstown on Sunday.

The Choisir colt made a big impression on his Dundalk introduction in December and returned to the County Louth all-weather venue to win a minor conditions race in March.

The Irish 2,000 Guineas entrant is thrown in at the deep end on his turf debut, taking on battle-hardened performers like Tom Hogan’s stable stalwart Gordon Lord Byron, but does receive a significant weight-for-age allowance from each of his six rivals.

Stack said: "He’s in good form and we’re looking forward to it.

"I think he’ll like the drier ground and he’s getting weight all round.

"We’ll make a plan for him after Sunday."

Three-times Group One winner Gordon Lord Byron is in the twilight of his career at the age of 10, but showed that he retains plenty of enthusiasm when finishing a close-up fifth in the Abernant Stakes at Newmarket last month.

"He ran a good race in Newmarket and came home well," said Hogan.

"He seems in great form at home and I hope he’ll run very well."< Gordon Lord Byron is joint top-rated horse along with Jim Bolger’s Tribal Beat.

Ger Lyons runs both Brendan Brackan and Tennessee Wildcat while Johnny Murtagh’s True Valour and Jessica Harrington’s Pincheck make up the field.

Elsewhere on the card the David Marnane-trained Settle For Bay bids to continue his winning streak in the John R Fitzpatrick Agricultural Contractor Handicap.

The four-year-old has won his last four starts at Dundalk and also has a course and distance victory to his name.

He has to concede weight all round, however, and with the likes of Master Speaker, Jon Ess and Have A Nice Day in opposition it is no easy task.

Clongowes has his sights lowered significantly in the Fitzpatrick Gallagher McEvoy Solicitors Handicap.

Jim Bolger’s charge was out of his depth behind star stayer Order Of St George in the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan last time out, but looks a major contender for this event despite the burden of top-weight.

Southern France, trained by Aidan O’Brien, is likely to be a warm order for the concluding maiden after fairly flying home to finish second on his racecourse debut three weeks ago.

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