Ballysax shifts to Navan for renewal

‘Calandar’ considerations trigger move for Group Three race in which 13 still entered

Aidan O’Brien: trainer’s Geoffrey Chaucer is the standout name for Ballysax. Photograph:  Warren Little/Getty Images

Aidan O’Brien: trainer’s Geoffrey Chaucer is the standout name for Ballysax. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images


This year’s late Easter will work to Navan’s benefit on Saturday when the renowned classic trial, the PW McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes, makes a one-off visit to Co Meath from its Leopardstown home.

The Group Three race that has famously kicked off classic-winning campaigns by such as Galileo, Sinndar and High Chaparral has been switched due to the late Easter on the racing calendar.

“The second week in April is the ideal date for the Ballysax but because of Easter this year everything got pushed back and the date we got was March 30th. That was judged to be too early in the season for a Derby trial so it was switched to Navan,” said Leopardstown manager Pat Keogh yesterday.

Horse Racing Ireland has already said this is a one-off move for “calendar reasons” and Keogh stressed that too.

“The McGrath family has a huge association with Leopardstown and we’re sorry the Ballysax can’t be run here but I’m sure Navan will take over the job of hosting the race very well. It’s just what can happen with the fluctuation of dates on which Easter falls. Maybe we can get Pope Francis to give Easter a permanent date!” he added.

Thirteen hopefuls remain in the Ballysax after yesterday’s forfeit stage with last season’s Beresford Stakes winner Geoffrey Chaucer looking the standout name.

Aidan O’Brien’s colt is as low as 12 to 1 third favourite for the Epsom Derby and the champion trainer shares the Ballysax record of seven winners with Jim Bolger. Bolger, who won the race with the subsequent Oaks heroine Jet Ski Lady, has left in his Curragh maiden winner Answered, but O’Brien has four other potential runners in the 10-furlong event including the Galway winner Iniesta.

Saturday’s other black-type event is Navan’s own Salsabil Stakes for which 11 remain with a quartet from Ballydoyle that includes the regally bred Dazzling and Marvellous who is as low as 14-1 for the Epsom Oaks.

Ground conditions at Navan yesterday were soft to heavy.

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