The Qatar Prix Vermeille is not a race that Irish horses have enjoyed any luck in, but history tells us that Dermot Weld doesn't take horses on foreign trips without good cause.
Tomorrow, the Curragh maestro sends Princess Highway on a redemption mission to Longchamp, the Moyglare Stud-owned filly having laboured in testing ground when third in the Irish Oaks.
The three-year-old faces stiff opposition, with last year's winner Galikova joined by Yorkshire Oaks heroine Shareta in a 13-strong field.
Shareta is the one to beat but, with the ground on the slow side of good, there is a case to be made for Princess Highway. Most pertinently, when she stormed home in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot, she drew six lengths clear of The Fugue. At York, notwithstanding the 10lb weight-for-age differential, Shareta had only a neck to spare over The Fugue.
In the Vermeille, Princess Highway will enjoy just an 8lb pull but when you factor in the facile manner of her Ascot victory, it's fair to conclude that she has the scope to exploit the situation as it is under Pat Smullen (right).
Only four line out for the Moulin, with the improving Farhh likely to start favourite following some cracking efforts behind So You Think, Nathaniel and Frankel this year.
There is a good chance that this will prove the perfect opportunity for him to claim a first Group One win, but Moonlight Cloud is preferred on home territory.
A dual winner of the Prix Maurice de Gheest over seven furlongs, Freddie Head's four-year-old famously failed by a mere head to collar Black Caviar in the Diamond Jubilee at Ascot.
She met trouble in running en route to finishing a close fourth behind Excelebration in the Jacques Le Marois last time but at the very least that performance suggested that she has the stamina to score a top-level win over a mile.
Outsider to note
Although Liam McAteer's Thats A Fret is 10lb out of the weights proper in the 0-95 five-furlong handicap at Ffos Las tomorrow, he is a solid each-way option.
Maybe most importantly, McAteer has booked the services of Shirley Teasdale, a bang in-form 7lb claimer who rides chiefly for the sprint king Dandy Nicholls.
When you take Teasdale's allowance into account, Thats A Fret will line out off an effective rating of 71, a mark off which he should at least be competitive.
Successful over course and distance last year, he wasn't disgraced when third at Laytown on Thursday, so it would be unwise to discount him in what is a poor race.
Longchamp 3.10 -- Princess Highway
Longchamp 3.45 -- Moonlight Cloud
Listowel 3.20 -- Minella For Value
Ffos Las 4.20 -- Thats A Fret
217times that Dvinsky has run following his fourth at Kempton on Wednesday. The 11-year-old Paul Howling-trained gelding, bought for €200,000 by Michael Tabor as a yearling, now shares the modern-day record for races run.
81 years since Cameronian got beaten in the St Leger. He was the last horse to fail in the third leg of the Triple Crown, with Bahram and Nijinsky succeeding since.
7 extra pounds that Galway winner Fosters Cross was allocated for the Kerry National. Muirhead, narrowly successful the same day, escaped without a penalty.
Quote of the week
"It couldn't be more appropriate, could it? It was great; racing doesn't often produce fairytales, usually nightmares." -- John Dunlop after watching the aptly named Times Up do just enough under Eddie Ahern in yesterday's Doncaster Cup, 24 hours after the dual Epsom Derby-winning handler announced plans to retire at the age of 73.
Three things we
learned this week
1 The Listowel Race Committee continue to make a real effort. Sadly, with the counter-incentive of TV rights money prompting many tracks to simply not bother with racegoers' needs or comfort, the Kerry venue is one of a select band of which that can't be said.
Over the past year, the riverside facility has had a €600k makeover, most of which went on a complete refurbishment of its main Captain Christy Stand and grooms' facilities.
Being from Cork, we note with a wry smile the folly of switching the Sunday from the last day of the festival to the opening day tomorrow, but Pat Healy, the racing photographer who doubles as chief promoter, maintains that particular decision was practically founded, rather than an assumption that Kerry would be involved in next week's football decider.
"Besides," says Pat, "with none of our neighbouring counties involved either, we think we have a chance of breaking the 100,000 attendance barrier for the first time."
All they need now is a few dry days.
2 Class is permanent. After a tumultuous few weeks, Johnny Murtagh reminded everyone just why his talents are so revered with two stylish steers on Sole Power and Sir Prancelot at Doncaster, but it was Mick Kinane who brought the house down with an awe-inspiring display in the legends' race on Wednesday. Having already won a similar event at Aintree, the 53-year-old again rode his rivals to sleep on Patriotic, seizing the initiative over a furlong down before repelling a late thrust by the George Duffield-ridden Elijah Pepper by a nose. It was like he had never been away.
3 The Turf Club's integrity procedures have new muscle. This week the regulatory body announced that it had reached an agreement to access trainers' and jockeys' phone and bank records if there is a compelling reason to do so. Not everyone will be pleased about it, but it was an overdue development if Irish racing's integrity is to be taken seriously.
Monday: Listowel, Brighton, Musselburgh, Wolverhampton (AW)
Tuesday: Listowel, Folkestone, Thirsk, Yarmouth
Wednesday: Listowel, Beverley, Kempton* (AW), Sandown, Yarmouth
Thursday: Listowel, Ayr, Kempton* (AW), Pontefract, Yarmouth
Friday: Listowel, Ayr, Lingfield, Brighton, Newbury, Wolverhampton* (AW)
Saturday: Listowel, Ayr, Catterick, Newbury, Newmarket, Wolverhampton* (AW)
Sunday: Gowran Park, Hamilton, Plumpton, Uttoxeter