14 runners are set to go to post for the listed Edmund & Josie Whelan Memorial Listowel Stakes (15:50) and the obvious place to start is the Joseph O'Brien yard which has won the last two renewals with Visualisation (2021) and Neptune Rock (2022).
O'Brien, who has the 'Hot Trainer' Flag to denote that his team is in top form, saddles three runners in his hat-trick bid. Miramis (Timeform weight-adjusted rating: 107) is perhaps the most interesting having taken her form up a notch on her last couple of starts. She won a listed race at the Galway Festival in August and then ran to a similar level in defeat when finishing third in the Group 3 Fairy Bridge Stakes at Tipperary a couple of weeks ago, keeping on well to be beaten just a length. The runner-up, Matilda Picotte, franked that form when winning a Group 3 at Doncaster on Sunday and Miramis seems sure to give another good account now back in listed company.
Stablemate Vega Magnifico (109) showed useful form when finishing third, beaten just a length and a quarter, in a listed contest at Leopardstown in June. He isn't without each-way claims on that showing and his straightforward win in an amateurs event at Laytown last week confirmed his wellbeing, albeit he didn't need to improve to beat inferior rivals. The O'Brien challenge is completed by Adelaise (105), who has been knocking on the door in handicaps but will find this tougher up in grade.
The biggest threat to O'Brien's hat-trick attempt is perhaps Kingswood (116), who shaped very well when filling the runner-up spot on his handicap debut at the Curragh nine days ago, impressing with the way he went through the race before being headed near the finish. Beaten just a length and three-quarters from an opening mark of 101, he earned the 'Horse In Focus' Flag for that performance and the smart form he showed in defeat there identifies him as the one to beat on these terms.
Blues Emperor (112) also brings strong handicap form to the table having produced a career best when beaten just a neck in the Irish Cambridgeshire at the Curragh last time, while Snowcapped (108) looks the pick of the three runners trained by Jessica Harrington, who also has the 'Hot Trainer' Flag. She was a good third in the Group 3 Snow Fairy Fillies Stakes at the Curragh last month, passing the post just a length and a quarter behind the winner, and that form is much better than anything stable companions Maud Gonne Spirit (102) and Curvature (97) have achieved.
Aidan O'Brien and Dermot Weld are others with the 'Hot Trainer' Flag. The Ballydoyle team won this race in 2019 with Lancaster House and this year they rely on Carracci (106), a useful handicapper who needs to bounce back from a couple of below-par efforts. Keep In Touch (106), on the other hand, showed improved form in a first-time visor when last seen making Miramis work for her victory in listed company at Galway, ultimately going down by a neck. She is no forlorn hope to reverse the form with the winner on 2 lb better terms today.
Fleetfoot (106) has been steadily progressive for Jim Bolger and is worth a try at this sort of level having made it two from three this season when gamely winning a minor event at Punchestown last week, while Thomas Gibney's Alanya (105) will find this easier than when finishing down the field in the Group 2 Blandford Stakes at the Curragh nine days ago. She'd previously shown useful form when finishing third (beaten three and a quarter lengths) in a listed contest over the same course and distance.
The field is completed by Any Dream Will Do (98) and Fizzical (92). Any Dream Will Do finished a few lengths behind Alanya at the Curragh last time and looks out of her depth kept to listed level by Willie McCreery, who also has the 'Hot Trainer' Flag. As for Fizzical, she is returning from 12 months off and even the pick of her form as a three-year-old leaves her with plenty to find.
Timeform Analyst's Verdict:
Kingswood produced a smart effort when second in a big-field handicap at the Curragh last time and looks capable of winning at this level. Joseph O'Brien is seeking a hat-trick of wins in this contest and his Miramis, already a winner in similar company this year, is second choice ahead of recent Curragh Group 3 Fourth Snowcapped.
Timeform's weight-adjusted ratings:
112 Blues Emperor
109 Vega Magnifico
106 Keep In Touch
102 Maud Gonne Spirit
98 Any Dream Will Do
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