Shane Foley may extend runaway lead at Dundalk

Jessica Harrington team in good form and Elusive Laurence is the one to watch

Shane Foley is setting a fast pace in the winter jockeys’ table with 11 winners. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

While champion jockey Pat Smullen flies the flag for Ireland in a prestigious jockeys' challenge in Hong Kong, the runaway leader of Dundalk's winter championship, Shane Foley, can further extend his lead on board Jessica Harrington's Elusive Laurence.

Foley is setting a fast pace in the winter jockeys' table with 11 winners, five clear of his nearest rival, Chris Hayes. Since Foley's boss Michael Halford has saddled a remarkable 13 winners at Dundalk already this winter, Foley's success-rate is hardly a surprise but his best chance this time could be on an outside ride.

Elusive Laurence tackles a mile and a half for the first time in the finale but was staying on well on her previous start behind Moonmeister on the all-weather, and the Harrington team appears to be in good form.

Taaluf has a first start for Halford in the mile maiden but has been handed a wide draw, and Lady Cooper’s start for Tom McCourt last month belied her 66-1 odds when only overhauled in the closing stages.

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Antiquus can often be too headstrong for her own good but if she settles well enough then the mile of today’s claimer should be well within her compass, while Tsar Paul and Ana O’Brien can follow up a course win on Friday night despite dropping back to six furlongs.

Solomon Northup’s 90 rating is hard to argue with in the juvenile maiden although Dermot Weld’s newcomer Don Camillo, a son of Ghostzapper, holds a classic entry in 2015.

Leigh Roche rides Don Camillo as Pat Smullen takes on some of the world’s top jockeys in a challenge at Sha Tin ahead of Sunday’s prestigious international fixture.

Ryan Moore and Christophe Soumillon represent Britain and France respectively in a competition which also includes Kerrin McEvoy (Australia) and Irad Ortiz from the US, as well as Richard Hughes and New Zealander James McDonald.

Sha Tin

The three Irish horses due to line up in Sunday’s big meeting are getting used to the Sha Tin track although it is familiar territory for the Sprint hopes, Sole Power and Gordon Lord Byron, who have each raced in Hong Kong twice before.

However it’s a new experience for Jim Bolger’s Parish Hall, who is among the outsiders for the mile and a half Vase.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column