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Leopardstownhorse racing tips and previews: Jake Russell's Sunday treble


Rounding off a busy horse racing weekend, our writer/pundit Jake Russell shares his best bets from three Group 3 races at Sunday's flat meeting at Leopardstown

By @ Jake Russell

2.20pm - Group 3 Ballylinch Stud "Red Rocks" Stakes

A wide open contest to kick start our Leopardstown Group 3 article, this race has only ever been run four times previously, the first two of which were won by Jim Bolger, another by Ger Lyons and last year’s contest by the powerhouse Aidan O'Brien, so there isn't much to go on in terms of previous trainers form in the race. 

Take Me To Church for Jack Davison has valuable race fitness on his side, but I think Atlantic Coast could potentially mould into a proper Group horse in his 3yo season. A 3¼ -length winner on debut in a decent maiden contest at the Curragh last August, that form has somewhat been franked with the 2nd-placed horse that day winning since and others in behind running well on other occasions after this. 

Joseph O'Brien's charge then lined up against the highly-touted Diego Velazquez, and did finish 3rd to him and Capulet, only beaten by a little under 4 lengths in that Group 2 contest at Leopardstown. 

Atlantic Coast then ended his season with a nice nose victory over Bright Stripes to land the Group 3 Killavullan Stakes at Leopardstown. 

With some black type to his name already, which comes in the form of a 3rd in a Group 2 and a win in a Group 3, I expect him to progress nicely this season and go well in this contest on Sunday. He goes well fresh, and is the highest rated in the field at this stage, and he is the one who is most likely to improve the most out of these.

2.55pm - Group 3 Ballylinch Stud "Priory Belle" Stakes   

One of my fillies to follow Matrika was initially entered up in this race all week, but has unfortunately not been declared to run, so we shall have to wait to potentially see her out soon.

With that in mind I will be siding with another Aidan O'Brien filly in this in the shape of Buttons. It is very interesting that Ryan Moore has decided to ride her instead of the much more experienced Cherry Blossom, and that could come back to bite him on Sunday. 

However, I think Buttons could literally be anything, and she could easily have improved tremendously over the winter and become a force now a year older and into her 3yo campaign. There isn't much to go off with her in terms of form, as she only raced once last season as a 2yo, which was when she landed a maiden contest by a nose over this course and distance, where she did actually have to work hard to get her head in front. 

The main thing to take out of that run is the form in behind: Content (another Aidan O'Brien filly) was a quarter of a length 3rd that day, and has since come out and won a Group 3 as well as coming 4th in a Group 1 at Santa Anita, which was the Juvenile Fillies race at the Breeders Cup meeting, and she was only beaten by a length and a half that day. 

It is clear to see that Buttons needed the time to mature after her debut win which is why we haven't seen her since, but we all know Aidan O'Brien is the best when it comes to giving his younger horses time to grow, so I feel Buttons is a name we could be hearing a fair bit of this season and beyond. 

She has an entry in all of the 1000 Guineas races, as well as the Oaks at Epsom in June, and she carries big prices for them all, but should she land this Group 3 contest on just her 2nd outing, after which she might shorten a little in the betting and get a few eyes on her for the season ahead. 

Aidan O'Brien has a very good record in this contest, with nine victories since 2004, and some of the previous winners turned out to be nice types in time.      

3.30pm - Group 3 P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes

Another contest dominated by the powerhouse of Ballydoyle, Aidan O'Brien, one of his runners is actually a pretty short price here on Sunday. This is usually a race that is acted as a Derby trial, and Aidan has won it with some very nice yardsticks over the years, including Yeats, Fame And Glory, Broome and Bolshoi Ballet. 

He has the main two runners in the field this year, with Ocean Of Dreams who is a very similar profile to Buttons in the previous race, where he only ran once last season as a 2yo, which was a winning effort, and a nice winning effort at that as he blitzed the field by 6 lengths in the end. 

However, I think once again Ryan Moore has chosen right with his ride here as he is on board the short priced market leader Illinois, who had two runs last season as a 2yo, kicking off with a very nice 3-length debut victory at the Curragh. Whenever a horse wins there on debut you have to take note, as the novice/maiden contests are usually very good races in time, and I think Illinois did win a nice contest that day. 

He was then chucked firmly in the deep end when sent over to Saint-Cloud for the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud, taking on some more experienced rivals over a slightly longer trip of 1m2f in the very soft ground conditions. He was actually sent off the market leader for the contest that day, but did look to slightly lack a bit of toe and stayed on well in the end to only get beaten into 3rd by 1 length, so the obvious step up in trip to middle distances is sure to come in his next run or two after this contest on Sunday. 

This horse could literally be anything, like most of the Ballydoyle 3yo's, and if he is a real Derby contender for June, then he would have to win this contest in comfortable fashion. I am quite excited to see how he can get on against a 111-rated horse of Paddy Twomey's and his unexposed stablemate in Ocean Of Dreams, although Illinois is rated 109 and is the most likely to improve, especially with Ryan Moore on his back. 

I think he will mop up in this before maybe bigger and better things will be on the horizon for him, maybe a tilt at the French Derby given he has already travelled over there. 


All prices are from Planet Sport Bet and are subject to change

 All previews and tips provided by @ Jake Russell

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