Meld Stakes preview: Pincheck the punt at Leopardstown

Published on: July 17, 2019
Author: Jamie Clark
2019 Meld Stakes preview leads on Pincheck for the Leopardstown Group 3

Pincheck has a fine record at Leopardstown, so looks the value bet to land the Group 3 Meld Stakes there over 1m 1f on Thursday night (7:50).

Trained by Jessica Harrington, the five-year-old gelding has won twice and placed a couple of times from five career starts at this venue.

After winning a mile maiden here on his first start as a three-year-old, Pincheck ran well in handicaps.

He then improved throughout last season chasing home the re-opposing Zibha in the Group 3 Amethyst Stakes.

As Pincheck now meets the winner on 10lb better terms and only has a 1 1/2 lengths to find, there’s every chance of him reversing the form.

After again filling the runner-up spot in a Listed affair at Cork, he finally scored a deserved race success in the Desmond Stakes in August.

The way Pincheck stayed on inside the final furlong and ran on for a 3 1/4 lengths victory over Masarr suggests further would suit.

He was then far from disgraced when trying to give I Can Fly 8lb in the Group 2 Boomerang Stakes when beaten 4 1/4 lengths into third.

Sure to come on for reappearance run

As he was again giving weight away to the runner-up, it was a great effort in the circumstances. Connections then sent Pincheck over to America for a winter campaign.

Although he failed to trouble the judge in three runs across the Atlantic, he rejoined Harrington’s stable and shaped well on his return to action last time out.

Pincheck went down half-a-length in a Listed affair at The Curragh to Insignia Of Rank. He had to concede 5lb to the winner and 15lb to the short-head runner-up, so again it was a fine effort.

As Pincheck should come on for the run and the Harrington stable is on a 29 per cent strike rate in the last 14 days at the time of writing, he looks well worth a wager here.

The son of Invincible Spirit is by an Arch mare that won over further than the nine furlongs trip of this. Stamina should not be an issue for Pincheck then.

With Shane Foley once again in the saddle and among the winners this week, everything points to a big run. Pincheck gets our vote at 4/1 with Bethard for the Meld Stakes.

Concerns about O’Brien duo

Race terms favour three-year-olds but, although Aidan O’Brien trained duo Cape Of Good Hope and Mohawk come out best on adjusted ratings, there are reasons to oppose both.

It’s just 12 days after Cape Of Good Hope ran a six-length eighth in the Belmont Derby in America.

This is obviously easier than that, yet it’s a very short turnaround time from a transatlantic mission.

Cape Of Good Hope won the Listed 1m 2f Trial for the Epsom Derby on reappearance. He then ran a fine fourth in the Prix du Jockey Club when beaten 4 3/4 lengths.

Soft ground at Royal Ascot when eased in grade to this level was against Cape Of Good Hope in the Hampton Court Stakes.

Although respected getting weight-for-age and not burdened with a penalty, Cape Of Good Hope is opposed despite odds of 3/1 with Betway on the fact he’s turned out so quickly alone.

Mohawk, meanwhile, looks to be crying out for a step up in trip rather than dropping back.

Last year’s Royal Lodge winner ran a fine race when chasing home Circus Maximus in the Listed Dee Stakes during the Chester May Festival.

The way he shaped that day suggested he might be a stayer, but connections dropped Mohawk back in trip for the Irish 2000 Guineas. He didn’t have the turn of foot to be a threat at The Curragh.

Mohawk was also never dangerous when back up in trip to an extended 1m 2f in the Prix du Jockey Club. He was again down the field and behind Cape Of Good Hope.

As Mohawk is penalised for his juvenile Group 2 success and this trip is sharper than Chantilly and Chester, he can’t be fancied at 9/2 with BetVictor off these terms.

Bolger and Weld’s Meld Stakes records respected

Jim Bolger has saddled the winner of this race four times in the last six years. His sole representative in this Meld Stakes renewal is top-weight Ancient Spirit.

This new recruit for the yard joins from Chris Waller’s stable, but was also previously trained in Germany. Ancient Spirit won two Group 2s over a mile there last season with plenty in hand.

Although he finished last on both his starts in Australia, Bolger’s brigade are in fine form. The yard is also operating at a 29 per cent strike rate in the last fortnight at the time of writing.

Ancient Spirit faces no easy task on his Irish debut giving weight away all-round, but odds of 7/1 with Boylesports are worth considering each-way given his new handler’s fine race record.

Speaking of that, no trainer has more Meld Stakes winners than Dermot Weld with nine He’s represented this year by the lightly-raced and progressive Tinandali.

The three-year-old Oasis Dream colt was a tenderly handled sixth behind Cape Of Good Hope in a Curragh maiden.

Tinandali has won twice since, including by a cosy length over 1m 2f here on reappearance in April.

He shaped better than the bare result suggested when last of seven to Constantinople when stepped up to this level back at The Curragh.

Something wasn’t right with Tinandali that day and he was eased for the final couple of furlongs.

As he showed that running to be all wrong when making all and bolting up by a facile 11 lengths at Navan last time out, he could well be worth another crack at this level.

If taking another step forward, Tinandali is also one to consider each-way at 5/1 with Betfred for the Meld Stakes.