sport

Irish Eyes: Look to the Future

Our weekly Irish Eyes column fancies Future Icon at Cork, but also nominates three best bets for Royal Ascot next week.

Last weekend saw a welcome return to form for Irish Eyes with two winners and the each-way selection also making the frame after being well backed.

It also witnessed the crowning of Australia, who won what appeared to be a decent Derby in good style. Now that he has managed to win a Group One, his future racing career is likely to be both short and very well-managed. In effect, it's job done!

I suspect we'll see him only a couple more times now with the stallion shed dictating that a Champion Stakes win at Leopardstown would be preferable to an Arc victory.

Taghrooda on the other hand, was a hugely impressive winner of the Oaks and given that the daughter of Sea The Stars is available at 16/1 for the Arc while Australia is as short as 4/1, there is no doubt that John Gosden's filly is the smarter ante-post bet at this stage.

Fillies have won four of the last six renewals of the race, and Taghrooda will be in receipt of both the three-year-olds' and the fillies' allowances, so she is worth an each-way nibble at 16/1 for the Longchamp highlight in the hope that the ground isn't a bog come October.

Looking ahead to Royal Ascot next week and the obvious thought is that the widespread 4/7 about Aidan O'Brien to be Top Trainer is probably the worst-value bet of recent years. O'Brien looks to have one of his weakest strings in years and if he is to have winners, they are likely to come in the form of Leading Light in the Ascot Gold Cup, and possibly The Great War in the Norfolk Stakes.

It's difficult to predict what The Great War will have to take on in the Norfolk, given other entries in the race also have options in the Coventry, Windsor Castle and the Chesham but he is unbeaten from two starts and was at one stage favourite for the Coventry Stakes. O'Brien will be disappointed if he cannot score.

In the Ascot Gold Cup, Leading Light faces last year's one-two in the form of Estimate and Simenon but that was one of the weakest Gold Cup's in some years and Leading Light looks a class above. His preparation has gone perfectly this season and he has been working to the same level as he was last year with this race as his number one objective for 2014. O'Brien has a tremendous record in this race and Leading Light looks as good as his previous winners at this stage of his career.

Aidan O'Brien supplies four of the 14 entries for the Ribblesdale Stakes but the race looks at the mercy of the French-trained Vazira, a daughter of Sea The Stars. Second in the Group One Prix Saint-Alary last time on soft ground, she is likely to be much better suited by the likely better surface at Ascot.

Another Sea The Stars filly should star on Friday in the form of the long absent John Oxx-trained My Titania. She was very strongly fancied to prevail in the Newmarket 1000 Guineas before a poor scope ruled her out. She was again flying in her work prior to the Irish 1000 Guineas where soft ground meant she was an eleventh-hour absentee. The vibes coming from Oxx's strongly suggest she might even have won both Classics, so the stable are very confident going into Friday's race.

At Cork today, Eddie Lynam's Future Icon gets the nap vote in the juvenile ma iden. She shaped well last Sunday at The Curragh but, unsurprisingly given her pedigree, failed to see out the six-furlong trip on the ground. Back at the minimum distance today, and indeed one of the fastest five furlongs in Ireland, Future Icon should account for the others particularly with the experience of a run under her belt, with Colin Keane claiming three pounds and with the ground being markedly more suitable than it was at The Curragh.

Scream Blue Murder bounced back to form with an impressive course and distance win three weeks ago and looks to have been found a good opportunity to record a second Listed win today while Jim Bolger's Chance To Dance looks as if he could make up into a decent handicapper and he gets the each-way vote in the Cork Derby.

Irish Eyes selections:

Cork:

Nap: Future Icon, 2.40 Cork

Next Best: Scream Blue Murder, 3.15 Cork

Each-Way: Chance To Dance, 4.25 Cork.

Royal Ascot

Nap: My Titania, Coronation Stakes

Next Best: Leading Light, Ascot Gold Cup

Trixie: The Great War, Norfolk Stakes