McCreery looks to skies in the hope of landing Killarney feature
The four-day Killarney Festival gets under way this evening with a seven-race Flat card that features a competitive renewal of the Vincent O'Brien Ruby Stakes.
One of the leading fancies for this Listed contest over an extended mile is likely to be the Godolphin-owned Devonshire, although this one's participation isn't guaranteed as trainer Willie McCreery is anxious to see some rain fall to soften the ground.
The three-year-old filly has some smart form in the book and Billy Lee's mount is the one they all have to beat if she repeats her best run this season - when beaten two lengths into third by Jim Bolger's Pleascach in the Irish 1,000 Guineas.
She has only run once since then, when down the field against the colts in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot, but McCreery feels she had a genuine excuse that day.
"The ground was probably a bit quick for her over there," he said. "I'm hoping it rains at Killarney as I wouldn't want to run her on fast ground again.
"If they do get the rain and we get to run her, then she should run a big race. When you see what the fillies who finished around her that day (in the Guineas) have done, like Found and Jack Naylor, then you'd think she'd be up to winning a race like this, so I hope we can run her.
If the weather forecast for today is accurate, McCreery is likely to get his wish and the arrival of easier conditions would count against Aidan O'Brien's representative Battle Of Marathon, which was a tailed-off last of six on yielding ground in his only outing this year.
The Ger Lyons-trained Sacrificial, a good winner at Galway, the consistent Seanie and classy dual-purpose performer Inis Meain are others likely to attract support, but the vote goes to Devonshire.
At Sligo last night, the in-form McCreery-Lee axis struck in the opening auction maiden with 25/1 outsider Clon Rocket which had previously disappointed on its debut run at the Navan.
Having been held up early on, McCreery's charge worked its way into third place at the furlong pole and stayed on strongly to beat Set To Fire by two-and-a-quarter lengths.
Michael Halford was the trainer to follow at the track as he struck for a mixed double. The Co Kildare handler first teamed up with Shane Foley to take the ten-furlong maiden with Shamash (9/2) which relished the soft ground to score by over five lengths from Crossandra.
Halford's other winner came over jumps as Shadagann (7/4) broke its duck in the two-mile maiden hurdle under Paul Carberry who guided his mount to a three-length success from favourite Crystal Earth.