62 remain in contention for €300,000 Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes on Monday
A total of 62 juveniles have stood their ground for the third renewal of the Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes at Naas on Monday.
Of the horses left remaining at today’s five-day forfeit stage for the €300,000 Bank Holiday feature, six are British-based and 17 are already winners this season.
The only course and distance winner in the line-up is Apricot Twist who may represent last year’s winning connections of Ger Lyons, Colin Keane and Juddmonte who took the lion’s share of the €300,000 with Sacred Bridge.
The British challenge would look to be headed by dual winner Maria Branwell, who was third at Royal Ascot last month for trainer David O’Meara.
The 2020 renewal was won by champion trainer Aidan O’Brien and he could be represented this time around by the 92-rated Victoria Road, while his son Joseph is responsible for a dozen of the entries which stood their ground and youngest son Donnacha has left in Group 2 runner-up Badb, who carries the colours of his mother, Ann-Marie.
John Murphy has failed to land a blow in the Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes so far but has enjoyed notable success in the previous years by landing the two runnings of the Silver Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes.
Murphy landed lucrative prizes with Cavalry Charge at 12/1 last year leading home a 1-2 for the stable with Arges back in second and Sweet Gardenia at 50/1 winning for Murphy the previous year. This year the trainer is hoping to run debutant Dappled Light in the feature race.
Murphy said: “We will hope to run Dappled Light if he gets in. He is unraced but is a lovely horse and we’re happy with him. We just got a bit late for getting a first run into him but this has been the plan for him for the outset.
“The Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes is a lovely concept with excellent prizemoney and that is why it has been well supported from the start and certainly, it’s why we have always been supportive. We have been lucky to win the Silver version the two years too when that was held.
“We would support Ballyhane stock as a result, because they are putting back into the industry. They have lovely, young stallions that are worth backing too.
“We would go to the sales with the likes of this race in mind so it’s a proven incentive. It would be great if a few more of the bigger studs would do something similar, because it has been shown that such races will be supported and that there is great goodwill comes out of it.
“Of course because of the prizemoney on offer, there are huge entries and it’s very competitive but if Dappled Light makes the cut, we would be looking forward to the race very much.”
Declarations for the eagerly anticipated juvenile race take place on Saturday morning with the first of seven races on Monday getting underway at 2.10pm.
Naas Racecourse will be welcoming over 200 employees of Naas General Hospital as a show of appreciation for their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nessa Joyce, Irish EBF manager said: “This is only the third year of the running of the Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes and it is very encouraging to see such strong entries from both here and the UK. The added bonus this year is that crowds will also be in attendance at Naas Racecourse to add to the excitement. With such a valuable pot of €300,000 on offer and prize-money down to 12th place it will be the highlight for the many connections of the two-year-olds entered.”
Joe Foley of Ballyhane Stud said: "I’m looking forward to the third running of the Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes next Monday at Naas. The race has very quickly exceeded our expectations by becoming one of the main targets for owners of eligible two-year-olds each year and it’s great to see a number of UK runners still in. It will be great to have the race back in front of a full crowd this year."
Eamonn McEvoy, Manager of Naas Racecourse added: “We are really looking forward to the third running of the Ballyhane Irish EBF Stakes. Joe Foley's concept of developing a really competitive race with a huge pot has really taken off. The last two runnings have seen some really good horses come of the race and with this year's entries, we are in for another exciting renewal."