Sunday 22 April 2018

McCreery and Lynam have eyes on Deauville prize

Trainer Willie McCreery. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
Trainer Willie McCreery. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
Eddie Lynam landed the six-furlong conditions race at Naas with Yulong Baoju. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Willie McCreery and Eddie Lynam's respective classy fillies Fiesolana and Viztoria could vie to become the first Irish-trained winner of the Prix Maurice de Gheest not to hail from Ballydoyle at Deauville on Sunday.

A rarity in that it is a Group One run over most of seven furlongs, the €350,000 French contest was won by Vincent O'Brien with Beaudelaire (1983) and College Chapel (1993), before his successor Aidan claimed the sole Irish victory since it gained top-level status courtesy of King Charlemagne in 2001.

Its intermediate distance has led to it being dominated by a couple of specialists over the trip in recent years, with Freddy Head saddling Marchand d'Or and Moonlight Cloud to each plunder three successive renewals since 2006.

Fiesolana and Viztoria fall into a similar bracket, their last five cumulative wins coming over seven. They also share a preference for soft ground, and McCreery shares Lynam's recently stated desire that the Deauville ground – given as good – will ease before the weekend.

Fiesolana plundered the Group Two Challenge Stakes on easy going at Newmarket in the autumn, and she has since run well in defeat over a mile at the Curragh and Ascot.

Should she run on Sunday, the eight-time winner, acquired by Flaxman Stables for just over £1m in December, will be charged with delivering her Kildare handler a debut Group One success.

"I was very proud of her at Royal Ascot," McCreery said of her fourth behind Integral in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes.

"She ran an absolute blinder on that fast ground and over a trip which tests her at Group One class. We are the second highest-rated horse at the weekend and Billy Lee will go over to ride her. He knows the horse very well, so that's another big plus.

"The intention is very much to run and you'd hope that trip would be ideal for her. They are saying the ground is good, but the more rain that falls, the better our chances."

Viztoria won a Doncaster Group Two on slow ground in the autumn, though she hasn't been seen since finishing behind classy stablemate Slade Power for a second time in a row at the Curragh in May. Of the 19 entries in the Deauville feature, eight are English-based.

Meanwhile, Slade Power and Sole Power were among 61 entries unveiled yesterday for the Qipco British Champions Sprint at Ascot in October, with Tom Hogan's Gordon Lord Byron, third in last year's Maurice de Gheest, also engaged.

Irish Independent

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