Phelan's Alhellal 'in good shape' for Newmarket
Maurice Phelan, who plundered his first major English handicap when Portrait King took the prestigious Eider Chase in February, is optimistic ahead of Alhellal's bid for Cesarewitch glory at Newmarket this Saturday.
Successful for a fifth time in the Ulster Derby at Down Royal in June, the six-year-old is a top-priced 20/1 for the two-and-a-quarter-mile Newmarket slog.
"He's fresh and well and in good shape," the Athy trainer said. "Ideally I'd like a bit of better ground for him, but he showed in Down Royal that he does go through soft ground well and he'll have a light weight (8st 3lb) on Saturday if the top horse stays in."
On Sunday, the Curragh hosts the Irish version of the Cesarewitch and the field will include Mick Winters' prolific mare Missunited, which bids for her sixth win in seven.
She is one of 34 horses that have been put forward for the Hacketts Bookmakers-sponsored prize, having recorded her third triumph on the level over a mile and six furlongs at Listowel last month.
Seventh Sign, unbeaten in its last three for Tommy Carmody, has the option of contesting the €63,000 contest, with Dot Love's similarly prolific Shadow Eile also engaged.
Minsk could face Ballydoyle's progressive Chamonix in the Listed Finale Stakes, with Victor Clifford's progressive Hurricane Twister a contender in the Testimonial Stakes.