Merroir out to extend Joseph O'Brien's fine run of form in Ballinrobe highlight
Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Handicap | 1m5f | 3yo+ | RTV
This has the makings of a very interesting fillies' handicap, with a nice blend of relatively unexposed improvers taking on some more experienced types.
A similar event over 1m2f at Roscommon last month could be a pretty decent pointer, with the Matthew Smith-trained Starlight Dream running with credit on her reappearance in fourth.
The fifth-placed Ivy Avenue is also a potential improver as she tries this trip for the first time, while Summer House finished down the field but can be expected to sharpen up plenty for that comeback run – just like Imperial Choice, who was fourth at Leopardstown last week.
Merroir represents the in-form Joseph O'Brien – fresh from sending out 15 winners in the last fortnight – and is a leading contender, having bumped into the apparently well-handicapped Forbearance at Down Royal 17 days ago.
Jessica Harrington trained the winner on that occasion and Nathan Crosse's 5lb claim helps offset the fact her handicap debutante Only Sky is 2lb wrong at the foot of the weights.
It would not be a surprise if Port Sunlight, who impressed in a Gowran maiden last October, showed up well, while Melburnian has enough class to win a race like this if back to her best but needs to improve from her reappearance.
What they say
Joseph O'Brien, trainer of Merroir
She's been running consistently and seems to be improving. The ground was on the slow side when she won at Gowran so hopefully she'll be okay with an ease.
Dermot Weld, trainer of Port Sunlight
She's a nice filly. I think she'll appreciate the step up in trip and the bit of nice ground.
Jessica Harrington, trainer of Only Sky
She had a nice run at the Curragh and this will be her first start in a handicap. She's got a light weight so I'm hoping she'll run well.
Andrew Kinirons, trainer of Summer House
She showed some form in Britain and is a lovely, big filly. The trip may have been a bit sharp for her on her first run for us at Roscommon and hopefully a bit of rain comes. We're putting blinkers on her to help her get a position. We think she has a nice mark so hopefully she can run a good race.
Matthew Smith, trainer of Starlight Dream
She ran well on her first start after a break at Roscommon when the track might not have ideally suited her. She's done well since last year and is versatile in terms of ground. She has top weight but Sam Ewing's 5lb claim is a help.
Tony Martin, trainer of Melburnian
It was her first start of the season last time and the ease in the ground will help her. Hopefully she's coming to herself.
Cathal Byrnes, trainer of Imperial Choice
It was good to get her back at Leopardstown on Thursday. The trip might be a bit sharp for her but we're hoping for the best.
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