Shield to strike at Ballinrobe as Joseph O’Brien nears century of winners
Proven track form gives Granny On Fire edge over Lady O’Malley
Joseph O’Brien: A winning ride on Shield woudl bring up success number 92 of his Irish campaign. Photograph: MorganTreacy/Inpho
Champion jockey Joseph O’Brien is closing in on a century of winners in Ireland this year and a single ride at Ballinrobe this evening, Shield, can add to his tally.
Shield reintroduced Aidan O’Brien to the National Hunt scene last winter, scoring at Leopardstown in early March before finishing well beaten under O’Brien jnr in the Cheltenham bumper.
He returns to action in the mile-and-six maiden and faces a couple of intriguing opponents in the 96 rated Orgilgo Bay and regally-bred newcomer Ebaniya.
Few would have predicated Orgilgo Bay would be still a maiden now, having finished runner-up in last season’s Beresford Stakes, but he is eight starts without a win.
Ebaniya is a product of two classic winners in Sinndar and Ebadiyla. But this has been a “write-off” of a season so far for John Oxx and in the circumstances Shield could be the safest option to provide his rider with win number 92 of the Irish campaign.
Granny On Fire sluiced up by nine lengths on her last trip to the Mayo course although she failed in a subsequent quick follow-up at Tramore.
Proven track form is always a plus here and official figures give Michael Mulvaney’s runner an edge over another former Ballinrobe winner Lady O’Malley.
Should ground conditions remain good on the chase course, it will be good news for Pires, while his jockey Paul Townend can use Heaney’s experience to good effect over the fencing newcomer Darroun in the finale.