Monday 19 August 2019

Smith eyes Champions date for his prolific 'Poet'

Matthew Smith. Photo: PA
Matthew Smith. Photo: PA

Thomas Kelly

Galway Festival history-maker One Cool Poet is heading for Irish Champions Weekend after his heroic exploits at Ballybrit.

Matthew Smith's seven-year-old had only won one of his previous 29 races, but triumphed three times in six days last week - following in the hoofprints of Tony Martin's Busted Tycoon.

Having begun with a victory over an extended mile on Tuesday, he stepped up to a mile and a half on Thursday to win with a 6lb penalty and defied an extra 12lb on Saturday.

His first win came off a lowly mark of 66, but his new rating of 91 means he should get a run in a premier handicap at either Leopardstown or the Curragh.

"This time last week we didn't expect it to happen, it was brilliant and Saturday's win was by far his easiest," said Smith. "I don't think he's a Galway specialist. His only other win was at Limerick and he's gone close at plenty of other places. I put it down to him getting his head in front on Tuesday, that filled him with confidence. But every time he's run at Galway, he's run well.

"We'll look at one of the good handicaps on Champions Weekend, either a mile and a half or a mile-two. He's up to 91 now. Why not go there? He's earned a crack and the good thing is he can go over hurdles and fences as well. He's only run twice over fences, so that's something we can look at later."

Meanwhile, Eddie Lynam is keeping his fingers crossed his star filly Soffia can avoid the issues affecting some other members of his string ahead of her tilt at the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh next month.

Having won a Listed prize at Naas and the Group Three Ballyogan Stakes earlier in the campaign, the daughter of Kyllachy produced a career-best performance to complete her hat-trick with an impressive display in last month's Sapphire Stakes. She is set to step up to Group One level for the first time on the second day of Irish Champions Weekend (September 15).

"Soffia is in good form, but the yard isn't. We have a lot of coughing and dirty noses, so I'm hoping she stays clear of it. At the minute she is fine," said the Dunshaughlin-based trainer.

"She really excelled the last day and just keeps improving. I'd have been disappointed if she wasn't placed and delighted if she won, but she didn't win - she bolted up.

"Roll on Champions Weekend. There would be a temptation maybe to supplement her for the Nunthorpe, but we'll wait for the Flying Five."

Irish Independent

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