Lolly no soft touch in Matron --Stack
Royal Ascot winner Lolly For Dolly will bid for a debut Group One success when she tackles the Coolmore Fusaichi Pegasus Matron Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday.
Following the four-year-old's game victory in the Group Two Windsor Forest Stakes in June, when she came home strongly to score under Wayne Lordan, 'Fozzy' Stack, son and assistant trainer to his father Tommy, nominated the one-mile fillies' contest as her next big target.
Stack confirmed yesterday that she remains on course for the highlight of the undercard on the Champion Stakes programme, while also allaying any fears about the likely fast ground at the Foxrock venue.
"She deserves to take her chance," he said, "so we'll see what happens. It looks like being a good race, but it would be great if she could run into a place. Obviously she has always handled soft ground well and we'd be happy if the rain comes, but it was good ground when she won at Ascot, so she doesn't have to have it soft."
In four starts at The Curragh earlier in the year, when newly applied blinkers appeared to have a hugely positive effect, Lolly For Dolly won a pair of Group Threes and finished second twice. By the time Lordan coaxed her home at Ascot, she had brought her career Group race haul to four.
In an effort to have her in peak condition for the Matron, she was then given a mid-season break. Lolly For Dolly returned to action in a Listed race at Tipperary two weeks ago and wasn't disgraced when tiring to finish ninth of 13 behind Alanza.
"We had to give her some sort of rest after Ascot," Stack revealed, "and she would have needed the run at Tipperary. She still has to prove herself at the highest level, but you'd be hoping -- certainly on the way that she won at Ascot -- that she'd at least be up to being reasonably competitive in a race like Saturday's."
With Aidan O'Brien's four-time Group One winner Misty For Me a strong 6/4 favourite to oblige for the race sponsors, Lolly For Dolly is available at up to 10/1 for the Matron. Should she prove up to task and win, she would provide the Stack's Golden, Co Tipperary outfit with a first domestic Group One triumph since Tarascon landed the 1,000 Guineas under Jamie Spencer in 1998.
Meanwhile, five Irish contenders featured among an overall entry of 158 when the weights were revealed yesterday for the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket on September 24.
Tony Martin, the last Irish-based handler to secure the famous handicap with She's Our Mare 12 years ago, has left in Pires, which finished third under Wayne Lordan in the 2010 renewal. Of the potential raiders, though, at this stage only the Dermot Weld-trained duo Rock Critic and Stunning View are guaranteed a place in the field.
On the jumps front, Ruby Walsh is close to a return from injury but is unlikely to be back in action at the Listowel festival, which begins on Sunday week.
The eight-time Irish champion jumps jockey has been out of action since he suffered a crushed vertebra in his neck and torn ligaments in a fall from Friendly Society at the first flight of a handicap hurdle at Killarney on July 12.
Walsh is no longer wearing a neck brace and will have his injury X-rayed next week before medics will ultimately decide his comeback date.
At Hereford yesterday, Gordon Elliott was plundering British prize money once more as he sent out Manger Hanagement, under Tony McCoy, to canter home in the novice chase.
The Meath handler had two other runners at the meeting, but hot favourite Priors Gold fell when looking beaten in the opener and Man In Black had to settle for the runner-up spot in the novice handicap hurdle.