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Maarek fired for phoenix

Maarek faces seven rivals as he returns from a mid-season break in tomorrow's Phoenix Sprint Stakes at the Curragh.

Victorious in the Abbaye at last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe meeting when trained by Barry Lalor, Maarek made a good start for new handler Evanna McCutcheon winning one of his four starts in the spring.

The seven-year-old tasted Duke of York Stakes success on the Knavesmire in May before chasing home subsequent dual Group One winner Slade Power when last seen over six furlongs at the Curragh in May.

Maarek relishes cut in the ground and McCutcheon is keen to get him back on track now that some rain has arrived. She said: "He's good, he's had a bit of break and this is his first run back so he will come on for it a bit.

"There's only so long you can keep him going without giving him a run, so we just gave him a couple of weeks off while the ground was quick and then brought him back into full training.

"He will come on for the run but his last run against Slade Power has worked out well as he is a top-class horse. He does have a penalty but he has that for a reason as he is a Group One winner.

"He's entered in the Nunthorpe, at Haydock, the Irish Champion Sprint and Ascot and Paris would be the ultimate aim if the ground is right."

Mick Halford's Russian Soul was a Group Three winner in Dubai back in February and returned to European action with a pleasing second behind Darwin last month.

Jamesie was third for David Marnane that day and tries his luck again while Kevin Ryan's Hamza and the Roger Varian-trained Rocky Ground make the trip across the Irish Sea.

An Saighdiur, Scream Blue Murder and Flight Risk complete the line-up.

David Lanigan's Hoist The Colours (10/1) left a disappointing recent run behind in the Patrick McVeigh Maiden Stakes.

The strapping Sea The Stars colt showed promise on his three-year-old bow at Windsor but was beaten a distance in a subsequent outing at Newmarket.

Ted Durcan's mount (8-1) was that bit more willing than market leaders Saarrem and Artful Rogue and beat them handsomely by four lengths.

"He's a massive horse, we've always like him, but he's just taken time," said Durcan. I don't know what happened last time, maybe the ground was too quick. He's next year's horse."

Freddy Head fields Thawaany as he goes in search of an incredible seventh 
win since 2006 in Sunday's Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville.

Irish interests are held by the 
Eddie Lynam-trained Viztoria, while last year's Cheveley Park Stakes 
winner Vorda is one of three 
three-year-olds along with Jane 
Cecil's Joyeuse, Frankel's half-sister.

Willie McCreery's Fiesolana drops in trip having run well over a mile this season and John Gosden's Gregorian looks to back up his excellent run in the July Cup.

David Simcock's Caspar Netscher makes his return, with the consistent Sommerabend supplementing the home team.


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