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'Pepper' can leave a bad taste on Magical's reappearance


Trainer Jessica Harrington

Trainer Jessica Harrington

Trainer Jessica Harrington

What better way to put the seal on a stellar weekend of Irish Flat action than with the return of the brilliant Magical against four rivals in the Group One Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes (4.45) at the Curragh.

Aidan O'Brien's star mare enjoyed a season to remember last year when securing both the Irish and British Champion Stakes before it was decided that the daughter of Galileo would stay in training, much to the delight of the Ballydoyle maestro.

This is an opportunity for Magical to blow the cobwebs off ahead of another big season with plenty of lofty targets ahead over the coming months, but it may be wise to avoid the odds-on shot and side with the value, and Jessica Harrington's Cayenne Pepper ticks a lot of boxes.

A Group Three winner as a juvenile, the Australia filly was far from disgraced when fourth in the Fillies' Mile at Ascot on her last start as a two-year-old, and Shane Foley's mount has the age allowance in her favour to make a bold show.

Receiving 12lbs from Magical - as well as the same weight from O'Brien's Fleeting - is a big plus as she goes beyond a mile for the first time, and if there is to be an upset, she may be the one to cause it.

Fleeting is consistent but frustrating to follow with just two triumphs from 13 starts and she is overlooked at the prices, while Willie Mullins' True Self could land a blow having plundered an Australian Group Three in good style on her penultimate start.

Irish racing's HQ also houses the Group Two Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes (4.15) as Make A Challenge bids to continue Denis Hogan's blistering start to the season.

Sceptical may have been just touched off at Royal Ascot last Saturday but Make A Challenge scored tidily in a Listed sprint at Naas the same day when looking better than ever, and Joe Doyle's mount sets a high bar for others to reach.

Joseph O'Brien's Speak In Colours also returns a week after his Diamond Jubilee fifth at Ascot and won't be far away, while the sole British challenger is Kevin Ryan's recent Haydock Listed second Queen Jo Jo.

An ultra-competitive nine-runner event also sees Aidan Fogarty's Forever In Dreams set to improve enormously for his reappearance behind Sceptical at Naas, but all signs point to Make A Challenge if turning up in a similar vein of form to last weekend.

The Finlay Volvo Cars Race (3.10) is one of the hottest races of the day, but recent Naas maiden winner Masteroffoxhounds can follow up that victory for Harrington and Foley, while jumps trainers may hold the key in the concluding 2m handicap (5.45).

Willie Mullins switches the attention of Champion Hurdle second Sharjah to the level as he sends five in chase of victory, but the Closutton maestro may be trumped by Dermot Weld with useful dual-purpose performer Dalton Highway, a course and distance winner, selected to score.

Indo Sport