Altesse spearheads Irish raid on Haydock showpiece
Jim Bolger's lightly-raced Altesse heads a three-pronged Irish entry for Saturday's Lancashire Oaks at Haydock.
Trained by Jim Bolger and owned by Kirsten Rausing, the daughter of Hernando has never finished out of the first three in five career outings but hasn't run since finishing second to Massinga in the Noblesse Stakes at Cork in April.
Also in the line-up is the Pat Fahy-trained Ballybacka Queen, which was a Classic hope at one time last season - finishing third in the Derrinstown 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown. While she failed to get a win on the board last term, she has returned to form this season, winning handicaps at Leopardstown and Cork.
Tony Martin's Dark Crusader is the other entry from these shores and will be bidding to supplement a previous success in England, having won the Melrose at York a couple of years ago.
Her three runs this year have been in good company, most recently finishing sixth to Forgotten Rules in the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan.
Leading the home defence will be the Denis Coakley-trained Miss Marjurie, which is unbeaten in two starts this season and had a number of her weekend rivals behind her in the Pinnacle Stakes over course and distance last month
Elsewhere, David Pipe's stable stalwart The Package has been retired after his run at Uttoxeter on Sunday. The 12-year-old finished eighth in the John Smith's Cup, and now heads for a deserved retirement.
Running in the colours of the late David Johnson, The Package was a regular at the Cheltenham Festival and was a popular winner of this year's Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup.
Pipe said: "I have had him in the yard ever since I took out my licence and what an incredible servant he has been.
"His absence will leave a big hole to fill."