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Friday sees the final of the regular Dundalk evening meetings that have kept up us company throughout the winter, and with the Irish Flat season now underway, this week’s offering features some potentially slightly classier horses than we’ve seen on most of the cards.

We kick off with an interesting 2-y-o maiden at 17:20, in which all but one of the runners are making their debuts. The one with experience, Brazilian Song, shaped with some encouragement when sixth at the Curragh on debut, but it will be disappointing if one of the newcomers doesn’t have this one’s measure.

The O’Brien family are strongly represented with three of the five runners, father Aidan sending out Blackbeard, while sons Joseph and Donnacha saddle Alexis Zorba and Belatucadros.

It’s obviously a minefield trying to predict which one of these will prove the speediest and be clued up enough to strike on debut, so that’s something I won’t attempt. What I will say is that all three have nice pedigrees, as you’d expect from the yards they represent, and the race looks sure to prove an invaluable pointer for the future.

Ivy League could improve markedly

The 1m maiden for 3-y-os (19:20) sees the O’Brien clan well represented once again, but we do at least have some public form to go on here, and I’m taking Ivy League to step up markedly on his debut effort and get the job done.

This Ballydoyle-trained son of Galileo was very green when sixth at the first Curragh meeting a couple of weeks ago but showed enough to think he has a future.

He wouldn’t be the first newcomer from this yard to improve significantly with an initial outing under his belt, and the form of that maiden has already been well advertised with the runner-up coming out and winning at Leopardstown this week.

It could be argued that Donnacha O’Brien’s Atlantic Breeze achieved more than Ivy League when fifth on debut over this C&D in November, again form that has proven relatively strong since. I’m expecting this one to provide the stiffest resistance to the selection, but I’d be surprised if Ivy League didn’t have just a bit more residual improvement in him.

Promising fillies to fight it out

Earlier in the evening, Buenaventura is sure to be popular in the 1m 4f handicap at 18:20, having taken a similar race over a little shorter trip here in February. Although sired by the speedy Caravaggio, Joseph O’Brien’s filly has plenty of stamina in her pedigree and shouldn’t have too much trouble coping with the extra furlong and a half here.

She did still look a work in progress there, running around in front and showing signs of residual greenness, and could still be well ahead of the handicapper off a mark of 73.

However, she meets a filly in Haroya who’s bred to be much better than this sort of level and looks sure to be suited by stepping up to 1m 4f for the first time (dam is a half-sister to English/Irish Derby winner Harzand).

Haroya has already had a go in handicaps, finishing second last time, but with this step up in trip looking likely to be right in her wheelhouse, I’m taking this well-connected Aga Khan filly to turn over the likely favourite.



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