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Halford's charge takes on Futurity challenge

Fri 23rd Aug 2019, 09:02

Roman Turbo (noseband) winning the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes in July.
© Photo Healy Racing

Mick Halford is confident the Galileo Irish EBF Futurity Stakes is the ideal race for Roman Turbo as his unbeaten colt moves up in class and trip at the Curragh.

Roman Turbo already has a Group Three victory on his two-race CV after adding the Anglesey Stakes to his tally last month, having also opened his account at this course when a shock 25-1 maiden winner.

Halford is happy to move the juvenile up another level at his home track — but admits the forecast yielding-to-soft surface is a concern, after those two previous victories on good.

Asked if Friday’s Group Two was the obvious and ideal target following the Anglesey, the County Kildare trainer said: “We thought so.

“He is undefeated, won twice at the track and is inching up in trip — the step will definitely suit him.

“He’s been training really well, so we are happy to put him in there.”

Roman Turbo may just be inconvenienced by softer conditions, though.

“The only thing I am a bit worried about is the ground,” added Halford.

“He is a beautiful-moving horse, so I would not be confident of him handling if it was soft.”

It is a learning curve for both horse and trainer, who was always hopeful about Roman Turbo’s potential but is still finding out how far he may go.

“We’ll never be too hard on our two-year-olds, but we knew he was showing up well,” he said.

“It is fair to say he is a horse who does more on the track than he does at home.”

Among Roman Turbo’s eight opponents is Jessica Harrington’s Jungle Cove — who is taking aim again at two formidable Aidan O’Brien opponents.

The Futurity is the second of two back-to-back seven-furlong juvenile Group Twos, with the fillies in action in the preceding Debutante Stakes.

Harrington knows what it takes to win both, having done the double back in 2010 — and for good measure also striking in the colts’ race 12 months later.

O’Brien has often held sway since, of course, notably with subsequent Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck last year.

This time he fields four in the Futurity, including Armory and the unbeaten Iberia — both of whom have a verdict over Jungle Cove.

Harrington is optimistic nonetheless that her charge can step up, despite still being a maiden after four career starts.

“He was very unlucky the last time — he just got nabbed right on the line,” she said, of a three-quarter-length second to winning debutant Iberia over this course and distance last month.

Previously a fast-finishing three-length third to subsequent Group Two winner Armory, again over this course and distance, Harrington’s son of Mastercraftsman must also contend with Justifier — who like Roman Turbo, is unbeaten in two starts.

Ger Lyons’ colt beat O’Brien’s subsequent Acomb Stakes runner-up Harpocrates on heavy ground in a Tipperary Listed race last time.

Harrington added: “If (Jungle Cove) ran in another maiden, he’d be bumping into the same (type of) horses, having to take them on.

“So we’re coming here. He’s improved every race and is definitely still an improving colt.”

The Moone trainer is double-handed in the Debutante, with Alpine Star and Windracer

Alpine Star was a decisive winner of her maiden at Galway, at the second attempt, having finished third on debut at Leopardstown behind the re-opposing Love — one of four for O’Brien, in another field of nine.

Love then landed a Group Three success in the Silver Flash Stakes at Leopardstown, where winning debutante Windracer was a most disappointing last of eight.

O’Brien said of Love: “She won nicely at Leopardstown the last day and she seems to be really well since.”

Harrington, meanwhile, hopes conditions will be more suitable for Windracer this time.

“We had a complete disaster with her at Leopardstown,” she said.

“I think maybe the ground — I think it was a bit too firm for her.

“But we’ve always thought a whole lot of her — and the ground will be lovely there this evening.”

Harrington was also understandably encouraged by Alpine Star’s victory ahead of a Ballydoyle colt three weeks ago.

“We were delighted with her — it was a natural progression,” said Harrington, who will find out at the same time as everyone else where the two fillies stand in this season’s highly-competitive stable pecking order.

“I’ve no idea,” she said.

“They are two very nice fillies. They’ve never worked together, so we’ll just have to see.”

Others of note are Lyons’ pair, six-furlong Curragh maiden winner French Rain and Soul Search — who split Love and Alpine Star on her debut and was then third in the Anglesey.

Johnny Murtagh’s Know It All a course-and-distance winner on soft ground this month, also takes her chance.