Martyn Meade sweet on Aclaim at Naas
Trainer Martyn Meade is confident Aclaim will rise to the challenge of the Bar One Racing Lacken Stakes at Naas on Sunday.
After making a successful debut on the all-weather at Kempton in December, the three-year-old looked much better than his opening mark of 87 when following up in a Newmarket handicap last month.
A 7lb rise has earned him a step up in class and while he still has his work cut out on ratings in the Group Three, Meade feels he can bridge the gap.
"He's done very well for us so far and we're looking forward to seeing what he can do on Sunday," said the Newmarket trainer.
"We were thinking of running in the Sandy Lane at Haydock, but we just felt that might be a step too far at this stage and a Group Three looks the right way to go.
"I think he'd go on any ground, to be honest, but he showed at Newmarket he can handle a bit of cut, which makes the Irish race look ideal.
"We've got Pat Smullen on board and I'm very hopeful of a big run.
"If he can go there and win, it would be great to think about Royal Ascot."
Aclaim is the only British representative in a seven-strong field, with Aidan O'Brien's Washington DC and the Jim Bolger-trained Smash Williams setting the standard.
Mick Halford's Al Qahwa makes his first appearance since finishing third behind Smash Williams in the Round Tower Stakes at the Curragh last August.
Halford said: " He has a bit to find on the ratings with Washington DC and Smash Williams, but he's ready to start and he's in good form.
"I'm hoping the ground doesn't dry out too much as he's not one that would want it rattling fast. I think he's better with a bit of ease."
O'Brien's apparent second string Waterloo Bridge, Only Mine and the hat-trick-seeking Erysimum complete the line-up.