Monsieur can plunder Tipperary spoils
Smart British-based sprinter Monsieur Joe is trusted with the nap vote to plunder the Listed Kilfrush Stud Abergwaun Stakes at Tipperary.
This evening's €55,000 feature has gone for export three times in the last four years, and Paul Midgley's eight-year-old is one of four looking to extend that sequence. Speed Hawk and Iffranesia are two others rated above 100, with the 85-rated Cordial the one with most to find on official figures.
However, Stuart Williams' Oasis Dream filly has been running well in defeat in similar company, so the decision to make the journey to the Limerick Junction venue is of note.
Still, Monsieur Joe sets a pretty decent standard. Previously successful at Group Three level, the eight-year-old won a valuable York handicap over this five-furlong trip off 99 in May. Since then, he has been second in the Dash at Epsom and filled the same berth behind Out Do in a York Listed race.
Either side of that run, he contested decent races at Cork and the Curragh. He didn't quite make the frame on his previous visits, but he was thereabouts. Tonight, Monsieur Joe faces slightly weaker opposition.
Crucially, he has shown a good level of form on soft ground before, and that is sure to stand to him here, with conditions likely to be quite testing. All told, then, he is fancied to secure the €35,750 winner's share of the spoils under Joseph O'Brien. Of the locals, Johnny Murtagh's Kasbah is one of the more interesting contenders. A three-year-old Acclamation colt that won over this trip when last seen at Down Royal in the autumn, he has the potential to win at least at this level.
The other Pattern race on the programme is the Coolmore-sponsored juveniles' Listed race. John McConnell's impressive Leopardstown debut winner Play The Game has the potential to step forward in this, likewise Jim Bolger's course and distance winner, Glamorous Approach.
Ger Lyons' Galway nursery scorer Waipu Cove may have a bit more to find, and ultimately it's hard to get away from Aidan O'Brien's Port Douglas. A son of Galileo that impressed on its Leopardstown bow before running into Sanus Per Aquam there last month, Port Douglas has the pedigree and entries to suggest that he should be up to winning this.
With seven winners for a 15pc strike-rate, O'Brien's namesake Charles is enjoying a fine campaign. Son of the original Ballydoyle doyen Vincent, he has some live contenders here. Santa Monica could take a bit of beating in the fillies' maiden under Fran Berry, who might also deliver for him aboard Great Wide Open in the Connolly's Red Mills Handicap. On dropping back to this trip for its handicap debut here on soft ground last time, Great Wide Open won with something to spare.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Starspangledbanner three-year-old gets in here off just a two-pound higher mark, so he is fancied to follow up. An Saighdiur, a dual winner of this, tops the page, while the likes of In Salutem and Kimbay will also ensure it is no gift.
In the lady riders' finale, Willie Mullins's indomitable Thousand Stars has its first Flat start since 2009. He has a chance, but O'Brien's Nina Carberry-ridden Prussian Eagle is preferred. A decent hurdler last term, the son of Jeremy will love the ground if he sees out this 12-furlong trip.