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Classy St Nicholas Abbey to lord over inferior rivals

The Ballydoyle juggernaut grinds relentlessly on to the Curragh this afternoon when the superb Breeders' Cup hero St Nicholas Abbey will spearhead another potentially lucrative foray.

Narrowly beaten on his seasonal bow in Dubai by Cirrus Des Aigles, which franked the form in style at Longchamp last week, Joseph O'Brien's three-time Group One-winning mount faces six inferior rivals in the Mooresbridge Stakes.

John Oxx's Irish Lincoln hero Sharestan is an improver that should have a race of this nature within his compass in the not-too-distant future, but he still has 11lbs to find with St Nicholas Abbey on official ratings here.

While the drop back to 10 furlongs for a first time since he was toppled by Unaccompanied on his reappearance at headquarters in 2011 is a slight concern for St Nicholas Abbey, with the ground on the slow side he should still have too much class in a Group Three that Aidan O'Brien has won with the long odds-on shots Fame And Glory and So You Think the past two years.

O'Brien might also take the day's other Group Three, the Athasi Stakes, with Ishvana.

As the homebred three-year-old is set to carry just 8st 11lb, Seamie Heffernan takes over from the trainer's son following her second victory at Dundalk last week. That represented a promising return to form for the 98-rated Ishvana and, if she handles the ground, she might not get a better chance to win a Group Three.

Unusually for this level, none of her four rivals possess marks any higher than her own, though Kevin Prendergast's Bulbul remains open to further progression.

An impressive soft ground maiden winner in the autumn, the Shamardal filly finished a couple of lengths in front of Ishvana when they both disappointed badly in the 1,000 Guineas trial at Leopardstown, so there is a chance that she could trouble the selection if she were to recapture her best.


In the Listed Tetrarch Stakes, the first-time blinkered Gowran Park maiden winner Triumphant is another potent contender from Rosegreen, but just preferred here is Oxx's Takar.

Fourth behind stablemate Call To Battle on his initial start at the Curragh in October, Takar quickened nicely to score by eight lengths at Leopardstown the following month.

The Aga Khan-owned three-year-old looked a serious prospect that day, so it will be interesting to see if he can add to that impression under Johnny Murtagh now.

Later on, Qasser is napped to take the PG Duffy & Sons Citroen Maiden for Kevin Prendergast. Having tired into third inside the final furlong over a mile on his Naas debut two weeks ago, today's seven furlongs should suit Declan McDonogh's mount better.

At Down Royal, Tom Hogan's Flycorn, fourth to Simonsig at Aintree, can account for Terminal in the conditions hurdle under John Cullen, while Terminal's rider Ruby Walsh gets the nod on his father Ted's Devil's Elbow in the Sean Graham Bookmakers Beginners' Chase.

A bumper and maiden hurdle winner last summer, the lightly-raced runner will strip fitter for his reappearance sixth over flights at Fairyhouse.

Irish Independent