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Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor's Latest Blog


Dermot Weld`s Media Puzzle and Aidan O`Brien`s Rostropovich will bid to score just the fifth Irish victory in the world`s oldest classic, tomorrow`s Rothmans St Leger at Doncaster, and Weld yesterday gave an upbeat bulletin on his charge.

'I believe Media Puzzle has a good outside chance, certainly better than a 25 to 1 shot,' the Curragh trainer said before nominating the likelihood of good to firm ground as the reason for his confidence.

'The ground is the main factor in our decision to run him. He just doesn`t handle the soft ground. I had been thinking of the Irish Leger, but who knows what the ground could be like at the Curragh on Saturday week,' he added.

'This horse had firm ground when he won the Ulster Derby and good ground when he won at Cork, but he was totally unsuited by the soft when he was third at the Curragh last time. He`s a different horse on fast ground, he`s in good form and Pat Smullen will ride, said Weld, whose only previous Leger runner was Gordi in 1996.

Ireland`s last St Leger winner was Vincent O`Brien`s Boucher in 1972. O`Brien also won the Doncaster classic with Nijinksyin 1970 and Ballymoss in 1957. Paddy Prendergast scored with Ragusa in 1963.

There are no such classic concerns at Kilbeggan today, but the former classic-winning rider Christy Roche sends a team of horses to the Co Westmeath track that will demand total respect.

The Cork maiden hurdle winner, Cross The Suir, will be fancied by many in the beginners` chase, while the Tralee third, Glamorous Leader, appears to hold a first-rate chance in the bumper. Throw in Rightontime`s chance in the novice hurdle, if prepared to forgive a disappointing effort behind Peace In Ireland at Gowran last time, and Roche could have a very profitable time indeed.

The featured #12,000 handicap chase may be somewhat disconcertingly sponsored by a dog food company but it`s still a decent pot and one in which Roche runs the talented if slightly frustrating Hardiman.

Ranged against him are some dourly staying types, however, and on the back of a decent second to Hill Fox over Ballinrobe`s two and a half miles, maybe Dessie Hughes`s Delgany Royal will improve for a hike in trip.

Another man to keep on the right side of today should be Charlie Swan. His mount in the handicap hurdle, Wall St Station, won by a distance over the course and distance last time; while Swan himself trains the consistent Tender Return for the second maiden hurdle.