Sport Horse Racing

Thursday 22 February 2018

Poet can start the Celebration

Chris McGrath

WHILE British punters must make do with scraps from Frankel's table this weekend, something rather closer to a square meal is available both here and across the Atlantic.

The comeback at Saratoga of Uncle Mo, the sensational juvenile whose Kentucky Derby challenge was derailed by a rare liver condition, is the highlight of an American programme that will go a long way to determining the strength of the home defence at the Breeders' Cup.

And at The Curragh tomorrow, the unbeaten Ballydoyle filly Maybe seeks her first Group One success in the Moyglare Stakes, where the opposition is led by La Collina. Maybe beat her at Leopardstown in July, but La Collina has since improved to beat colts, headed by Maybe's stablemate Power in the Phoenix Stakes.

The British fires, however, do little more than smoulder in the rain, with much of the televised schedule siphoned off to More4. Softening conditions prompted Richard Hannon not to declare Strong Suit, the ante-post favourite, for the Betfair Celebration Mile at Goodwood -- staged over the same course and distance so recently scorched by Frankel in the Sussex Stakes.

Hannon instead relies on Dubawi Gold, the colt which emerged from the toiling pack to chase home the champion in the 2,000 Guineas in the spring. Dubawi Gold then finished a much closer second in the Irish version, but that form has not worked out and while he has had legitimate excuses since, he may have his work cut out against Poet's Voice (3.20).

Having long hinted at raw class, this colt took until around this time last year to achieve his potential, by dint of learning to settle properly. Connections rather overdid things subsequently, trying to stretch his stamina beyond a mile, but at this trip he ran away with this prize (in easy ground) before narrowly thwarting Rip Van Winkle in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

He has not been seen since the Dubai World Cup, but had previously shown he can go well fresh when winning his trial after a five-month absence.

The convergence of improving, unexposed fillies in the other Group race on the card would already demand guesswork, quite apart from any deterioration in conditions.

As things stand, however, it seems sensible to accept that while Questing could not have been more stylish in her maiden, for now Regal Realm (2.50) has strictly achieved more -- and is, moreover, entitled to improve again over an extra furlong. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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