Sport

Thursday 18 September 2014

Diamond sparkling ahead of return

Published 17/05/2014 | 18:17

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Royal Diamond will make his seasonal debut in the Coolmore Vintage Crop Stakes

Royal Diamond is reported in "great form" ahead of his seasonal debut in the Coolmore Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan on Sunday.

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The eight-year-old son of King's Best provided his trainer Johnny Murtagh with his biggest success last season when winning the valuable Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot in October. He also claimed a Group Three prize at the Curragh in August, along with a Listed event at Leopardstown in July.

Murtagh said: "He is in great form, he is fit and well and we are looking forwarding to seeing him run on Sunday."

Dermot Weld has made a blistering start to the 2014 Flat season and is represented by Pale Mimosa. This five-year-old daughter of Singspiel won Listed contests at York and Leopardstown last year, while she finished a close-up fourth to Royal Diamond at Ascot.

Weld said of his Dr. Ronan Lambe-owned mare: "She has wintered well, and she is coming along nicely. She is having her first run of the season at Navan and I expect her to come on for it."

Saddler's Rock finished ahead of Royal Diamond in the St Leger at the Curragh in September, but he was then beaten into fifth by Murtagh's charge at Ascot in October. The six-year-old failed to make an impact in two starts at Meydan over the winter and trainer John Oxx is hoping the rain stays away from Navan before his latest assignment.

He said: "He needs good ground, so rain won't suit and I think it is forecast for Saturday night. We are hoping he will run a good race and it should be a good prep race for the Ascot Gold Cup."

Sir Ector enjoyed a fruitful campaign last year, winning both the Ulster Derby and the Movember Handicap, while he was just three and three-parts of a length off Royal Diamond in a Listed race at Leopardstown last July.

He ran a fine race on his last start to finish a close-up fourth in the Martin Molony Stakes at Limerick, on what was his second outing of 2014.

He is stepped back up to a mile and six here, and trainer James Lambe said: "He is in good form, the trip should suit, the ground should suit and hopefully he will run a nice race."

Leading Light, who won the St Leger at Doncaster in September, never landed a blow in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp but can be expected to make his presence felt now on his first start of the season. The Willie McCreery-trained nine-time winner Leah Claire and the twice-raced Cosmic Cannonball for Jim Bolger complete the field.

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