Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 18 February 2018

Meehan clear to polish up House

JA McGrath

BRIAN MEEHAN has solved the first of his problems before the lavish Dubai World Cup meeting has even started.

The trainer has ruled out Manassas from tomorrow's William Hill Lincoln, for which 22 have been declared.

Only 24 hours earlier Meehan was wrestling with a juggling act, trying to decide whether Manassas should take his chance at Doncaster, while putting the polish on Crowded House for the richest horse race in the world.

Weather intervened, however, and when the heavens opened on Town Moor it meant the end of the five-year-old's bid for the first major handicap of the Flat season. Manassas will now wait for Newbury's Spring Cup.

"Manassas would have coped with good, good to soft in places, but his best form has been on a sound surface, and when it became soft, we decided to miss the race," Meehan said.

With Manassas not in the field -- he had been 10/1 second favourite -- the William Haggas-trained Penitent is now a much shorter favourite -- 9/2 -- with the sponsors, William Hill. This lightly-raced type should go close.

Penitent, which will be ridden by Johnny Murtagh, was drawn in stall one yesterday, with fancied runners Extraterrestrial (three), Prime Exhibit (five) and Mia's Boy (six) all nearby. Doctor Crane, trained by last year's victorious trainer, John Gosden, is on the opposite side of the track in stall 22.

Meehan, however, can now give his undivided attention to supervising Crowded House's challenge in tomorrow's World Cup.

He is generally a 12/1 chance after drawing stall nine in the $10m (€7.5m) race, which has attracted a capacity field of 14. The colt will be ridden for the first time by American Johnny Velazquez. "They are saying this is a very open World Cup, with no horse really standing out. That really means it will be a tough race," Meehan said.

Meehan knows well the feeling of training a winner on the world's richest race night, and he has got to know and appreciate the way things are done in Dubai. "The service we get when we bring horses here is outstanding. It's better than very good, and it should be recognised by us all," he said.

"It makes all the difference when you are travelling horses to foreign countries to be able to rely on the facilities being to a very high standard," he said.


Velazquez has been getting acquainted with Crowded House over the past few days, but when the colt returns to Europe, Jamie Spencer will again get first call. "The Prince Of Wales' Stakes at Ascot or the Eclipse at Sandown are two big targets we will be looking at. But let's see how we get on in the World Cup first," Meehan said.

Meanwhile, Kieren Fallon limbered up for his busy World Cup night by riding in nearby Doha last night. He was due to partner Logic Way, his only mount on the card. It was his second visit to Qatar.

Lincoln betting -- 9/2 Penitent (drawn 1), 10/1 Mull Of Killough (10), 12/1 Doctor Crane (22), Tiger Reigns (13), 14/1 Albaqaa (19), Collateral Damage (16), Extraterrestrial (3), Huzzah (20), Mia's Boy (6), Prime Exhibit (5), Viva Vettori (8), 16/1 Vitznau (15), 20/1 bar.

Irish Independent

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