Weld's Princess Highway set to open account for season
Dermot Weld's Princess Highway, a stunning winner at Royal Ascot last year, can get off the mark for 2013 in tomorrow's Group Three Noblesse Stakes at Cork.
A 12-furlong contest that Weld has plundered three times in four years, this 10-runner edition is bang up to scratch, with Paul Deegan's prolific Midnight Soprano and Aidan O'Brien's Magical Dream among the strong home contingent.
Ralph Beckett's Cubanita, a Listed winner at Doncaster in November, is also respected on its cross-channel foray, but Princess Highway sets the standard if she leaves behind her subdued reappearance defeat at Naas a month ago.
Third behind the inferior-rated pair Euphrasia and La Collina over 10 furlongs then, the Moyglare Stud-owned mare will be more at ease over this trip on slow ground, which matches the conditions that brought out the best in her in the Ribblesdale 12 months ago.
Granted, she will have to concede weight all round under Pat Smullen, but she has the class to meet the challenge if she is back to something like her best.
Maarek also has to give weight to each of his six rivals in the Listed sprint and he is likewise expected to succeed.
David Nagle's six-year-old has developed into a superb operator, readily scoring over this five-furlong trip on his April reappearance at Naas.
Seamie Heffernan's mount subsequently lost little in defeat when fifth behind Society Rock in a cracking York Group Two, so this drop in class on his favoured slow ground should see him notch up a 10th career victory.
Fran Berry could land the opening juvenile maiden on Tommy Stack's Fine Cut for JP McManus and the in-form Conor O'Dwyer-trained College Boy might also carry him to victory in the seven-furlong handicap.
In between, Berry has the plum mount on Peggy's Leg for McManus' daughter Sue-Ann Foley in the eight-runner six-furlong handicap.