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Forecast good with Abbey best of Irish

THE rare prospect of good ground looks set to add to the excitement for Saturday's Group One Irish Champion Stakes and Matron Stakes at Leopardstown, as well as the Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.

BOOKMAKERS were busy pricing up the Champion Stakes yesterday following the final forfeit stage and Nathaniel was made the best-priced 13/8 favourite with Paddy Power and William Hill, while Snow Fairy is second best in the betting with Boylesports top at 11/4 along with Powers.

St Nicholas Abbey appears the best of the home challenge at 5/1 or 6/1 depending on where you shop, while his stable companion Imperial Monarch is unlikely to get his preferred soft ground on this occasion.

Dermot Weld's classy filly Princess Highway and the Group One searching Famous Name are 8/1 and 14/1 respectively.


Johnny Murtagh's first big race ride for John Oxx since parting company will be aboard 20/1 shot Born To Sea, who is a three-part brother to Sea The Stars, who famously won this race in 2009.

Last year's winner, Emulous, has been made 7/2 favourite for Saturday's Matron Stakes by Paddy Power, who are the only firm to price up the filly and mares' one-mile contest.

Meanwhile, jockey William Buick faces a tough decision ahead of Saturday's Group One action as the top rider can also ride Australian super sprinter Ortensia in the Sprint Cup at Haydock.

Buick is retained to ride Nathaniel in the Irish Champion Stakes for his boss John Gosden but has also won Group Two and Group One sprints on the seven-year-old mare this season.

Buick said yesterday that he'll make a decision later in the week, but, with Leopardstown's Champion Stakes taking place at the later time of 5.45pm for the first time, there remains an opening for Buick to ride both.

The Sprint Cup at Haydock is due off at 3.25pm, which gives Buick less than two hours to make it to Foxrock.