Irish Oaks takes pride of place this weekend

THE weather put a bit of a damp squib on last week’s July Meeting at Newmarket and while it remains to be seen, I don’t currently think July Cup winner Mayson is a genuine top-class sprinter and to win a race like that by five lengths really does put a question mark on the form.

THE weather put a bit of a damp squib on last week’s July Meeting at Newmarket and while it remains to be seen, I don’t currently think July Cup winner Mayson is a genuine top-class sprinter and to win a race like that by five lengths really does put a question mark on the form.

Saying that, as you all know, I’ve been wrong before and he’ll probably go and win the Nunthorpe by ten now!

This Sunday the Darley Irish Oaks takes pride of place at The Curragh but as I don’t have any firm opinions in the big one, I’m going to opt for David Marnane’s Empirico in the same day’s Rockingham Handicap.

This is obviously a very competitive race but my fancy mustered a fourth last year and I really believe that he has improved this season.

As ever I am an after timer but I did genuinely consider tipping him up before his last victory over the same course and distance earlier this month but the one thing that put me off was the soft to heavy ground.

However in the end the Oasis Dream gelding handled it well enough and did very well to touch off Possible by three quarters of a length considering that he was short enough of room with less than two furlongs to go but quickened up exceedingly well under Fergal Lynch when that all important gap did eventually appear.

The ground at The Curragh starts the week in the same condition as that last run but I now don’t consider that to be an issue and to be fair, it was yielding to soft when he ran in the race last year.

The selection certainly deserved this latest victory as he didn’t enjoy a clear run on his previous start at Down Royal last month but when Lynch switched him right he travelled home with a fair old rattle.

Sometimes these sprinters can run up a sequence when hitting form and I think there’s more to come from this fellow.

Captain Cee Bee is another who won at The Curragh recently but I’m looking forward to seeing him go over hurdles again in Sunday’s Grade 3 Grimes Hurdle at Tipperary.

Despite his advancing years Edward Harty’s stalwart, who won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2008 and was third in last year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase, is still extremely versatile and can mix it on the flat and over both hurdles and fences.

Last year he won this race in a thrilling finish with The Real Article and I think that he’ll do the same again, especially as his win at Headquarters will have put him cherry ripe.

A bit of cut in the ground will certainly not bother the son of Germany and two miles is his trip. Last season connections had a tilt at the Guinness Galway Hurdle after the Tipperary heat and perhaps that race is on their minds again.

His flat record in now two wins, a second and a third from four outings so perhaps we’ll see him in a good race later on.

The PDC World Matchplay Darts starts on Saturday and while our 13-8 favourite Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor is the likely winner, perhaps the value rests with 9-1 chance Raymond van Barneveld.

It’s a long time since Barney won a televised major, but his form in the floor events suggests he’s the one in the top half of the draw - away from Taylor until the final.

Barney lifted the latest European Darts Open when he beat Dave Chisnall to claim that title and that was no mean effort as the St Helens man is currently the hottest player on the floor.

Selections

Saturday 12pm Blackpool Raymond van Barneveld

Sunday 3.30pm Tipperary Captain Cee Bee

Sunday 4.25pm Curragh Empirico

Read the Paddy Power column first every Wednesday in the Leinster Express