Thursday 22 February 2018

Stellar cast for Pretty Polly showdown

Thomas Kelly

Top-class fillies Midday and Snow Fairy feature among a field of eight declared for the Stobart Ireland Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh tomorrow.

Henry Cecil's Midday is a five-time winner at Group One level and ran an excellent race to finish second behind St Nicholas Abbey in the Coronation Cup at Epsom on her latest start.

Snow Fairy, trained by Ed Dunlop, had to make do with the runner-up spot behind her re-opposing older rival in last year's Yorkshire Oaks, but she still enjoyed a spectacular campaign. The four-year-old grabbed Classic glory in both the English and the Irish Oaks before signing off with victories in Japan and Hong Kong.

She met with a setback earlier this year and, as a result, tomorrow's start will be her first since December.

With regular rider Ryan Moore otherwise engaged, Johnny Murtagh (right) comes in for the mount.

Aidan O'Brien saddles Misty For Me and Empowering, while Jim Bolger turns out Claiomh Solais just over a week after she ran down the field in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.

David Wachman has been waiting for an ease in the going to run Chrysanthemum, which has been absent since finishing seventh to Misty For Me in the Irish 1000 Guineas five weeks ago.

"She seems okay, but it looks a good race," said Wachman. "It will be a difficult task, but we'll see what happens.

"She likes a bit of ease in the ground and we've been waiting for that."

Aoife Alainn and Obama Rule complete the line-up.

Michael Stoute's Carlton House is an intended runner in Sunday's Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

The Street Cry colt has been the subject of much media frenzy this year, owing to the fact he is owned by the queen.

Victory in the Dante Stakes at York ensured he was sent off hot favourite for the Derby at Epsom, despite suffering a setback in the week leading up to the race.

He still put up a fine performance to finish third, beaten just a length by Pour Moi and is sure to have his supporters at the Curragh.

A spokeswoman for the Stoute yard confirmed the intention is for the colt to be declared today, making him the first horse owned by a member of the British royal family to run in the Curragh Classic.

Native Khan, who was a length and a half behind Carlton House in fifth place at Epsom, will also get a second Derby chance.

"He's come out of the English Derby well," said Dunlop. "We're pretty confident he stays, but we're under no illusions.

"It's going to be very tough again and maybe it's going to be more of a stamina test, but it's his last chance of running in a Classic against his own generation.

"In time we may well drop him in trip. He's in very good form and we're happy with him."

Meanwhile, Irish raider Mount Athos, one of the market leaders for tomorrow's Northumberland Plate at Newcastle, was not among the final field of 20 for one of the season's richest and most competitive handicaps.

"The ground is a bit slow, the forecast isn't great, and he wants it quick," explained his trainer David Wachman.

The absence of Mount Athos and a perceived poor draw for market leader Activate in stall 18, means that last year's winner Overturn now heads the betting at a solid 6/1 in most lists.

Overturn, drawn two, bids to be the first to notch back-to-back Plate wins since Tug Of War 33 years ago.

Though he did win from a wide draw 12 months ago, it is a rare enough feat.

Overturn's rider Henry Brooke, is not the only apprentice with a chance for big-stage glory tomorrow.

The latest to step into the spotlight, thanks to some necessary jockey-juggling, is young Ashley Morgan, transferred from duties at Newmarket to take the mount on Mystery Star for his boss Mark Tompkins.

He replaces Paul Hanagan, no less, after High Office, from Richard Fahey's stable, unexpectedly made the cut.

Mystery Star, 25/1 for tomorrow's assignment, was a strong-finishing third in the Chester Cup on his latest run, one place ahead of Mount Athos and two behind Overturn.

Irish Independent

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