Sunday 21 January 2018

Star fails to shine in trial for Breeders'

FORMER Group One winner Starspangledbanner could finish only fourth to Balmont Mast in the Listed Mercury Stakes at Dundalk.

Ballydoyle's Australian import -- which returned to racing this season after an unsuccessful period at stud -- is being primed for the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint by Aidan O'Brien but did not find a great deal for pressure.

Despite his outside draw, Starspangledbanner was quickly into contention under Joseph O'Brien but was rather easily overtaken by the Eddie Lynam-trained winner close to home.

The Johnny Murtagh-ridden Balmont Mast (7/2) had a length in hand over Nocturnal Affair, with Timeless Call third.

Afterwards, O'Brien felt his charge needed the run and would still head to America, while Lynam said of Balmont Mast: "He's a good horse and he'll go to Dubai.

"He's in the Golden Rose in Lingfield (November 17) in a few weeks and we'll see about that."

Dream

Earlier, the Ger Lyons-trained Lily's Angels she made it two from two for the Glenburnie Stables operator in the opening EBF (Fillies) Race, travelling like a dream and extending away inside the last to beat Devotion by three lengths.

Lyons said of the Leopardstown Champion Stakes Day victor: "She likes the Irish air... The plan is to go for a Listed race here over a mile (November 9, the Cooley Stakes for fillies) and it could also be on the agenda to go to Dubai.

• Jamie Spencer has been confirmed as the retained rider for Sheikh Fahad of Qatar's increasingly potent racing arm.

• Gordon Elliott's Romanesco (9/2) made amends for his costly spill at Cheltenham by taking the three-mile handicap chase at Fakenham for Timmy Murphy, while Davy Russell made his visit to Newcastle pay on Nicky Richards' Duke Of Navan (11/8) in the novice hurdle.

Irish Independent

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