Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 17 March 2018

Abbey set for Curragh comeback

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

St Nicholas Abbey, a sensational winner of the Breeders' Cup Turf under Joseph O'Brien in November, could add a touch of star appeal to Monday's Bank Holiday card at The Curragh.

O'Brien's father Aidan has entered the rejuvenated five-year-old in the High Chaparral EBF Mooresbridge Stakes, a 10-furlong Group Three that the Ballydoyle handler has won with the high-class pair Fame And Glory and So You Think the past two years.

Should the son of Montjeu take his chance, it will be the first time that he has run over less than 12 furlongs since Unaccompanied toppled him over course and distance on his seasonal bow a year ago.


Intriguingly, Dermot Weld's versatile mare, successful at Navan on Sunday, is also engaged, while her stablemate Famous Name and the John Oxx-trained Irish Lincoln scorer Sharestan are others that could test St Nicholas Abbey.

The Churchill Downs hero, whose second to Cirrus Des Aigles in Dubai last month was franked by the French gelding's stroll in the Prix Ganay at Longchamp on Sunday, also features among 22 that O'Brien has put in the Eclipse.

Other heavyweights from the Rosegreen establishment that may get the opportunity to tackle the mighty Frankel in the Sandown Group One on July 7 include last year's winner So You Think, Saturday's English 2,000 Guineas favourite Camelot and recent Curragh victor Excelebration.

Jim Bolger has entered Light Heavy and Parish Hall, while fellow exciting three-year-olds Born To Sea and Akeed Mofeed could represent Oxx, who has pencilled in his talented Aga Khan-owned duo Alanza and Takar for Monday's competitive spread at headquarters.

Frankel, having recovered from a recent injury scare, is expected to reappear in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on May 19, and So You Think and Excelebration have also been given the option of squaring off with Henry Cecil's exceptional colt in that one-mile contest.

Ahead of Sunday's English 1,000 Guineas, Ger Lyons tweeted yesterday that his Cheveley Park winner Lightening Pearl, a top-priced 20/1 for Classic glory, remains an intended runner at Newmarket after coming through her final piece of work and scoping "100pc afterwards".


There was a less positive update on the amateur rider Gwen Daly, however, following her fall from her husband Alan's Star Of Boru in the bumper at Ballinrobe on Tuesday evening. Daly was brought down when Callthebigladjimmy clipped heels and unseated Mark Byrne turning out of the back straight, and both jockeys were taken to Mayo General Hospital for tests.

Dr Adrian McGoldrick, the Turf Club's chief medical officer, reported that Byrne was discharged yesterday afternoon, but added: "Gwen has a back injury. She's been transferred to the Mater Hospital for further investigations."

Florida Pearl, meanwhile, continues to have his condition monitored at the National Stud after it emerged that he has been struggling with his health. Now 20 years of age, he retired from racing in 2004 after a remarkable career that yielded two Cheltenham Festival triumphs, four Hennessy Gold Cups and a King George VI Chase during his time with Willie Mullins.

Irish Independent

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