Harty prepares Ansgar for another raid on Doncaster
A compelling team of raiders looks set to form part of a fascinating Longines Irish Champions Weekend but there will also be considerable equine traffic out of the country over the next couple of weeks.
Stars such as Golden Horn, The Grey Gatsby, Arabian Queen and Cirrus Des Aigles could spearhead the foreign onslaught at Leopardstown and the Curragh the weekend after next. Also on Saturday week, though, is the small matter of the final Classic of the season in Britain or Ireland.
Ballydoyle contenders Order Of St George, Bondi Beach and Fields Of Athenry are among the leading fancies for what looks like being a distinctly sub-par renewal of Doncaster's St Leger, with Aidan O'Brien seeking to conquer the famous 239-year-old Group One for a fifth time.
On the same card, Sabrina Harty will strive to emulate last year's Park Stakes victory with Ansgar. Her game seven-year-old has run respectably in defeat in good company at Royal Ascot and the Curragh on its last two starts. Curragh-based Harty, who will also saddle Kalann a day earlier in a bid to improve on his gallant 2014 third in the Doncaster Cup, is anxious for the drying weather to continue ahead of the Town Moor Group Twos.
"Hopefully they'll both go back to Doncaster," she said ahead of the St Leger festival, which begins on Wednesday. "We just want some real good ground for both of them.
"Ansgar is in great order. He was just too fresh going to the Curragh last time and kicked himself a couple of times in the stalls. It was a bit of a disaster, but he's fine again now and doing well. It has been difficult with him as we wanted to run at Goodwood and travelled over, but then they had a lot of rain and we had to take him out. There's just no point running him if the ground isn't good to firm. Kalann is crying out for a run, but he has had one or two little niggly problems and there has been no fast ground.
"He's delicate enough, so we won't run him on ground that doesn't suit him. He seems in super order at the moment, so fingers crossed we get some fast ground at Doncaster."
Before then, Tommy Stack's narrow Bellewstown two-year-old winner Optimism And Hope will on Sunday tackle a $100,000 race at Del Mar in California. Earlier still, there is the small matter of the Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday.
Tom Hogan's Gordon Lord Byron, a brilliant winner of the six-furlong Group One in 2013 and second in 2012 and 2014, is expected to have another stab at the race. Eddie Lynam's indomitable speedball Sole Power is also among the likely Irish starters.
At ante-post odds of 8/1, Gordon Lord Byron is trading at half the price of Sole Power, though both horses will be among the leading players if they reproduce anything like their best form this season.