Ballydoyle maestro Aidan O’Brien has won the 7f Group 2 Debutante Stakes for juvenile fillies 12 times in his illustrious training career.
The clear pick of his quartet in this year’s renewal at The Curragh on Friday evening (18:40) is Love.
This daughter of Galileo is a progressive sort who finished fourth and a neck runner-up to Windracer, who re-opposes in this, on her first two starts.
Love struck at the third time of asking when making all and holding on close home for a head victory over Soul Search – another who lines up against her again here – in a Leopardstown maiden.
She then took the step up into Group 3 company in her stride impressively in the Silver Flash stakes at the same venue last time out. Love again made all and scored by a commanding 3 1/4 lengths.
The third filly home, So Wonderful, was a further length behind, so she has nothing to fear from that one.
Love also emphatically reversed form with Windracer who was never a factor and trailed in last.
It was a taking display in a prestigious juvenile contest. Love is the clear first string of the O’Brien stable in the Debutante Stakes this year and odds of 6/4 with Ladbrokes reflect that.
Of the other Ballydoyle inmates, Petite Mustique has progressed since coming a two-length fourth to her stable companion at Leopardstown.
She was nearest at the finish, but broke her maiden tag at the Galway Festival last time out.
Petite Mustique made all and was only ridden briefly before keeping on under a hands and heels ride to score by a comfortable 2 3/4 lengths.
She appeals each-way at 13/2 with Bethard over the maiden So Wonderful and Tango, who steps up in trip.
Lyons duo look Debutante Stakes dangers
In-form trainer Ger Lyons saddles two contenders in the unexposed French Rain and Soul Search.
The former has had just one career start – winning a maiden under hands and heels over 6f at this venue by 1 3/4 lengths.
Estimating what the form is worth is difficult, but French Rain impressed visually. The step up in trip also looks sure to suit and she is overpriced at 20/1 with Betfair on the upgrade in the Debutante Stakes.
Lyons’ other runner, Soul Search, is also owned by Newtown Anner Stud Farm. Although still a maiden, that doesn’t quite tell the whole story.
No filly has got closer to Love than Soul Search, who went down a head in the aforementioned Leopardstown maiden.
The daughter of Zoffany was far from disgraced when last in action and beaten a length into third in the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes here.
Soul Search was nearest at the finish to Roman Turbo over an extended 6f and just a head behind the runner-up Lil Grey.
These runs suggest she’s well worth a crack at this level and is thus another to consider here at 11/2 with BetVictor.
With the Lyons stable on a 24 per cent strike rate in the last 14 days at the time of writing, that form contrasts sharply with Jessica Harrington’s yard.
She also has a couple in the Debutante Stakes this year, but Alpine Star made no impression on Love and Soul Search. A win since is a plus for the daughter of Sea The Moon and she’s also 11/2 with that bookmaker
Windracer, meanwhile, has to bounce back from trailing in last behind old rival Love. stable jockey Shane Foley chooses Alpine Star this time.
Armory and Iberia lead strong Ballydoyle hand in Futurity
O’Brien has also won the other 7f Group 2 juvenile race on this Curragh card, the Futurity Stakes (19:10) a dozen times in the past.
This event has a prestigious roll of honour including Giant’s Causeway, Teofilo, New Approach, Gleneagles and Churchill.
Subsequent Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck landed the spoils 12 months ago. O’Brien is mob-handed with a quartet in this year’s renewal.
Armory is one of three course and distance winners from the stable and the choice of jockey Ryan Moore.
Although only a 1 1/4 lengths third to the re-opposing Justifier on debut at Leopardstown, this Galileo colt has since scored in his next two starts.
After staying on strongly under hands and heels to score by 2 1/4 lengths going away here, Armory followed-up with an even more taking display in the Group 3 Tyros Stakes.
The way he settled in second, then improved to lead before the final furlong and then quickened effortlessly clear for a five-length victory back at Leopardstown oozed class.
Armory has nothing to fear from the well-beaten runner-up and stable companion Toronto.
Granted further improvement from that run, he’s going to take some stopping on the upgrade here. Armory is a worthy 10/11 favourite with Coral for the Futurity Stakes.
Iberia, meanwhile, won his sole career start to date here over the trip last month and is the most unexposed in the nine-runner line-up.
That maiden success has thrown up three subsequent winners – the fourth and sixth home, plus the re-opposing Geometrical. With Donnacha O’Brien now in the saddle, there is definitely more to come from Iberia.
He appeals as a danger at 7/1 with 888Sport over Lope Y Fernandez, who has been thrashed twice by next year’s 2000 Guineas favourite Pinatubo.
Don’t discount Justifier and Roman Turbo
The aforementioned Justifier got the better of Armory and has since stepped up to Listed level.
Trained by Lyons, the son of Free Eagle showed himself to be versatile as regards ground by dealing with a very soft surface at Tipperary last time out.
The form of his Listed win looks good with the runner-up Harpocrates going very close in a Group 3 at the Ebor Festival in York earlier this week.
As Rebel Tale was beaten 5 1/4 lengths in third, Justifier has nothing to fear from that re-opposing rival.
Provided his Tipperary success nine days ago doesn’t come too soon for this, it’d be no surprise to see Justifier get in amongst the O’Brien juveniles here. You can back him at 5/1 with Betfred to do just that.
Another with claims in a cracking renewal of the Futurity Stakes is Roman Turbo.
A dual winner like Justifier, the Jim Bolger trained Holy Roman Emperor colt landed the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes over an extended 6f here last time out.
Roman Turbo makes another step up in trip here, but the way he shaped strongly suggests the extra yardage will suit on the upgrade.
He was giving the runner-up Lil Grey a 3lb sex allowance, so his Curragh victory looks good based on that.
Whether Roman Turbo has the touch of class that Armory showed in his Group 3 victory though, is open to question.
It would be no surprise to see him hit the frame in the Futurity Stakes, however, and odds of 9/1 with Paddy Power make him another each-way contender.