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Platinum Stakes preview

After the buzz of the Galway Festival, Irish summer racing continues with a couple of days in Cork. The highlight of Tuesday's evening meeting is the Listed Platinum Stakes. The astute Dave Stephens, @DaveStevos, runs a magnifying glass over the field....

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7.00 CORK PLATINUM STAKES
Listed Race, 3yo+
One mile, €45,000
Good Ground (Heavy Showers Forecast)

A fascinating contest, with a good mix of fillies, some of whom are proven at this level, and others that are extremely well bred unexposed types. Ger Lyons provided the winner last year with Brendan Brackan in a race that cut up badly due to the ground turning soft. Oxx and Wachman are the other trainers to note having won SIX of the last ten runnings between them.

In recent years favourites have done well in this race, with three of the last five jollies obliging. However, on the occasions where the favourites haven't won the winners were priced up at 20/1 and 10/1, so it is a contest that is prone to the odd shock result. The ground is currently described as good, but with heavy showers forecast it would be no surprise to see conditions ease. Below is a quick summary of the field and what I believe to be their chances.

1. PIRI WANGO (LYONS/KEANE)

Usually reliable gelded son of Choisir who has proved difficult to place for his trainer since last tasting victory in a handicap at Gowran (8F yielding) off a mark of 96 in May 2014. Ran well off his revised mark of 102 at Galway and again at Leopardstown in valuable handicaps, and also performed with credit in a couple of Group 3 contests, without managing to win.

Comes here on the back of a very disappointing run at Galway behind Baraweez, seemingly with no excuses. Will need to put in a vastly improved display to take this and though he has won on soft ground, his trainer believes a quicker surface suits him better. Can currently be backed at odds of 12/1 and the very best he can hope for is a place.

2. SEANIE (MARNANE/KING)

High-class handicapper who has come up short on the few occasions he has run at a higher level. He last won at the tail end of last season, completing a quick double in handicaps at Listowel (7f) and Tipperary (7.5f) at the start of October, and subsequently ran alright in a Listed event behind Kanes Pass at Leopardstown (7f).

Ran his best race of the season so far when a close second to Cape Wolfe at Naas (8f), but that run flattered him, as the race was run at a crawl, and in a truer run race his stamina for this trip is highly questionable. He has never won over this far, and it is difficult to see that run coming to an end today. One to look out for when dropped back down in trip and best watched today at odds of 8/1.

3. AKIRA (BARRY/O'DONOGHUE)

Fascinating contender who is back for a third attempt at this prize. Went close back in 2013, finishing runner up and only going down by a length. Last year she was a well beaten third, but she was hampered at a crucial time and the winner had flown by the time she got a clear run. She wouldn't have won, but she definitely would have got closer with a bit more luck.

She then went on to run very well in defeat behind the likes of Carla Bianca and Brooch, getting to within a couple of lengths of both in a couple of Group 3s at the Curragh (9f good) and Gowran (9.5f good). This year she returned to action in another Listed contest at Killarney (9.5 good) and ran well enough considering it was her first run back of the season.. She duly stepped up on that with a super effort at Galway last week, looking likely to grab a place for much of the straight until she tired close home and dropped to 5th, beaten just over a length.

A mile is probably her optimum trip, which she gets today. She is fine on both good and soft ground, but probably wouldn't want it bottomless. Her last couple of runs should have put her spot on for this, and I am sure her trainer has had it in mind given her good runs here in the past. Looks the most likely of the outsiders to run well, and will definitely give each way supporters a run for their money at 16/1.

4. AVENUE GABRIEL (DEEGAN/HAYES)

Four year old previous dual Listed winner (8f good and good to yielding) who is evidently held in the highest of regard by connections given the lofty company she has been keeping throughout the majority of her career. The highlight so far probably came in the Irish 1000 Guineas last year when she finished fourth behind Marvellous.

Has been disappointing this season so far, albeit at Group 3 level, and this is a drop in class for her today. She won't mind any rain that falls either, as she seems to handle it well. It is hard to get away from the fact that she has been beaten by a total of almost 70 lengths on her four starts this season, and she is best watched at odds of 16/1 until she shows signs of returning to form.

5. FASTNET MIST (WACHMAN/LORDAN)

Another four year old filly who has won only once in nine starts. Went close behind Avenue Gabriel in the Listed race won by the Deegan filly at Naas last year. Another who is highly rated by connections but that has yet to really show why on the track. This year has been a big disappointment so far, and she hasn't looked to be a winner in waiting by any stretch of the imagination.

I suppose one could say there was a glimmer of promise on her last Listed start, but she was still beaten five lengths and her run last time was awful, in last place behind Anippe in a Group 3. Another that looks to be up against it and is best watched until she regains some of her old spark. Can be backed at odds of 18/1.

6. IN MY POCKET (OXX/MCDONAGH)

The first of the three year olds in the race and on breeding is a fascinating contender. This colt is a son of top stallion Dubawi, and is from a successful family. He is a half-brother to French 2000 Guineas winner Silver Frost, and another Group 2 winner in Spiritjim who has also run well at Group 1 level. His dam is also related to a few more black type performers, so as you can see he has a pedigree to die for.

He made his debut in a moderate maiden at Navan, and unusually for an Oxx horse he went and won. It was a visually impressive performance too as he showed a really nice turn of foot to put the race to bed a couple of furlongs from home. He takes a huge step up in class today but he is bred to be better than Listed class so it would be no surprise to see him run a big race. Oxx is in decent form too, and at 4/1 he is a viable alternative to the much shorter-priced Weld horse.

7. WYCHWOOD WARRIOR (HALFORD/FOLEY)

Been campaigned at exclusively at 7f during his seven race career, tasting victory twice (both on all-weather at Dundalk) and running a couple of decent races in defeat at Listed level. This colt is a son of Lope De Vega and is out of a High Chaparral mare that is a half sister to Group 2 winner Shakespearean.

However, while there is plenty of stamina in her dam line, visually he has not looked to be crying out for this extra furlong. He returns from a bit of a break today, having been off since a decent effort behind Convergence in a Listed race at Dundalk. With doubts about the trip and the suitability of the prevailing ground, this colt is best watched and looks a bit skinny at 7/1.

8. ESHERA (WELD/SMULLEN)

A very interesting 3yo daughter of Oratorio who absolutely trounced her opponents on her second run over this trip on good ground at the Curragh. She swatted aside her rivals with a certain degree of contempt on that occasion, and the runner up went on to win next time out.

Her dam is a Listed placed half sister to two previous Ascot Gold Cup Winners, so she is bred to be useful. She will undoubtedly get further in time, but at the moment a mile looks to be ideal. She will most likely try to dictate from the front and gallop her rivals into submission just like she did at the Curragh. She wouldn't want it to be too tactical however, and I doubt she would be suited by a snails pace. Another doubt is the likely easy ground,, as she has yet to face it. Her pedigree says she should be ok on it though.

It is no surprise to see her priced up as 2/1 favourite, but it would be advisable to tread with caution as not all of Weld's horses have been running up to form. He somehow won leading trainer at the Galway Festival despite two trainers having more winners than him, but even still he had a lot of disappointments with short priced favourites that didn't show their best form. A definite contender but her stable's form is the big worry.

9. STEIP AMACH (BOLGER/MANNING)

A Group 3 winner last year as a 2yo at Leopardstown (7F heavy) who has been largely disappointing since. A daughter of Vocalise, a sire Mr.Bolger seems to have taken a punt on, and out of a Noverre mare who herself is out of a Group 3 winner.

Has had an uninspiring start to her 3yo career, with four heavy defeats from five runs. The only ray of light so far this year was a three length third behind Anippe in a Group 3 at the Currragh (6F good). A repeat of that run might see her in the shake up here, and with rain forecast she could well get her preferred heavy ground.

Even so she is too inconsistent to consider as a viable betting proposition, and if one was to get involved it would only be if the heavens open and the ground deteriorates badly. Only of interest if the ground turns heavy and can be backed at odds of 20/1.

CONCLUSION:

Looks to be a two-horse race according to the bookies, and given the promise both showed on their last runs, both Eshera and IN MY POCKET are both worthy of maximum respect. Slight preference is for the Oxx colt, who is bred for this trip and who is from a yard that has been in excellent form of late.

At bigger odds the one to be interested in is Akira, who is trying to make it third time lucky in this race. She is in good form, and if either of the leading fancies fluff their lines this mare will be waiting in the wings to pick up the pieces. If the heavens open and the ground turns very soft Steip Amach is one to consider too at longer odds.

1. In My Pocket (4/1).
2. Akira (16/1).
3. Eshera (2/1).
4. Steip Amach (20/1) (wants heavy ground).

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