Tuesday 20 February 2018

McCutcheon won't give up on Maarek yet

Declan McDonogh riding Maarek (white cap) win The Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes at York racecourse in May
Declan McDonogh riding Maarek (white cap) win The Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes at York racecourse in May
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Evanna McCutcheon hasn't sustained the spark that saw her thrust into the spotlight with Maarek's York success in May but the fledgling handler remains hopeful that her sub-par stable star isn't done with just yet.

Having subsequently run a commendable second to Slade Power in a Curragh Group Three, Maarek has failed to show his true colours in two starts since, tumbling out of the stalls en route to beating just one of the nine runners home behind Jamesie back at headquarters on Saturday.

As such, the seven-year-old heads into the autumn schedule under a cloud, but a bid to retain his Prix de l'Abbaye crown is still on the agenda, as are potential tilts next week's Sprint Cup at Haydock and the Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh on Irish Champions Weekend.

"Unfortunately, these things happen," McCutcheon said of Maarek's sluggish start on Saturday, "We were very happy with him except of course for being slowly away. It will be either Haydock or Irish Champions Weekend next. We'll talk to the owners and see."

McCutcheon has set up base in Fethard, Co Tipperary, having performed the role of assistant to Maarek's previous trainers David Nagle and Barry Lalor, the man whose name is etched on the Abbaye roll of honour.

Despite the euphoria of her debut win in a Group Two on the Knavesmire, the rags-to-riches fairytale of the £2,500 gelding that her father Peter purchased as a John Gosden cast-off in 2010 has faltered at just the wrong time.

Like so many other aspiring young handlers, 28-year-old McCutcheon's handful of other runners have struggled to compete meaningfully. The difference, of course, is that she has a horse capable of thrusting her into the big time on any given day, so the trick will be to rekindle her renowned mud-lark in time for some major targets in the months ahead.

"He's in the Abbaye and he'll be in the Champions' Sprint at Ascot," McCutcheon confirmed. "He'll be in them all. We'll just take it one at a time. A lot will depend on the weather. I think they've had a lot of rain in Haydock this week, but whether they will have it next week, we'll have to see. These weather forecasts are the bane of my life!"

Also bound for foreign shores is John Murphy's Irish 2,000 Guineas fifth Big Time. Disappointing in the Jersey Stakes, the Kheleyf colt will drop to six furlongs for a Baden-Baden Group Three on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Turf Club's Licensing Committee has adjourned a referral against Stephen Mahon for a month. Following a random stable inspection at Mahon's Galway yard, concerns were raised about the welfare of some of his horses, the condition of the premises, the security arrangements and the swimming regime, as well as other administrative issues.

Mahon did not accept the inspectors' concerns in relation to the swimming, but he has undertaken to address the other issues.

He will be subject to another random inspection before the case comes before the committee again.

Irish Independent

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