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Gough hoping Maestro can star without rehearsal

Most of the big stars of 2012 have already returned to action this season and Sparta Maestro is likely to contest the forthcoming Open 600 at Shelbourne.

The undoubted king of the 600-yard racers is back in training following a winter at stud and he will have a trial at Shelbourne Park on Saturday week – Easter Cup final night – in advance of the 600 which will start the following week.

Joint owner and trainer Phil Gough yesterday reported that the dog is in great form despite a slight leg problem which troubled him through the end of last season.

"Hopefully it won't affect him racing and we will put him straight into the 600 without a preparatory race," said Gough.

Sparta Maestro is unbeaten in five races over the 600 trip, which included victories in the Mulvaney Open 600 and the Gain Feeds Night of Stars 600 as well as two track records for the distance. He will be a hot order for the Open 600, which this year will again carry a winner's prize of €20,000.

Also coming up at Shelbourne is the Healthcare & Transport Service Puppy Oaks, which will have a winner's prize of €6,500 and is set to commence on Saturday, April 27.

Following yesterday's news that Barefoot Allstar will miss the Scottish Derby due to injury, Paul Hennessy now reports that Hot Pursuit will be an absentee from the second semi-final of the Easter Cup at Shelbourne on Saturday.

"Hot Pursuit finished lame and a veterinary examination revealed that he has jarred his wrist," said the trainer.

"He will be on the sidelines for four or five weeks.

"His next major event will be the Champion Stakes in July, so there will be no rush back with him.

"I also had Allstar checked and he has pulled a monkey muscle, which will keep him out for four to five weeks, so he should be okay for Wimbledon."

The €5 special Wednesday admission will be in operation once again tonight at Shelbourne, where there is a nine-race card.

There is an interesting card at Kilkenny, where Tullaroan trainer John O'Flynn Jnr looks set to win two finals.

Goldmine Bolt (8.24) looks nap material in the final of an N2 Unraced after his 29.27 debut run last week. Natureofthetrade (9.12) also has the winning of a Coursing Bred A4 final.

Full Kilkenny entry

There is a full entry for the Kilford Arms Hotel McCalmont Cup, which will start at Kilkenny on Friday night and includes such former open racers as Buddy Minor, Swift Marathon, Danmar Benny, Dragon Shield and Bua Tommy as well as local specialist Mickys Trickster.

Irish Independent