The Michael Dods-trained filly is well fancied for the first of four top-level prizes on offer on the second afternoon of Irish Champions Weekend, having pushed star sprinter Battaash all the way in the Nunthorpe at York.
Que Amoro looked likely to sidestep this weekend’s five-furlong contest, but with a recent change to Covid-19 protocols meaning British-based jockeys are now allowed to ride without having to quarantine for two weeks, she was given the green light to travel to Ireland.
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Mulrennan said: “I was delighted when the quarantine rules changed – I’m very much look forward to riding her on Sunday.
“She’s come out of York very well. It was a hell of a run in the Nunthorpe – I’ve not seen many horses get Battaash off the bridle like she did, so it was a great effort.
“If she can reproduce that sort of performance this weekend, I think she’s the one they’ve all got to beat.”
Que Amoro is one of seven British challengers in a field of 15 runners, with Simon and Ed Crisford’s A’Ali, Kevin Ryan’s Glass Slippers and the John Quinn-trained pair of Keep Busy and Liberty Beach also part of the raiding party.
The home team is headed by Denis Hogan’s Make A Challenge, who has won four of his six starts this season and is five from eight overall at the Curragh.
The Verdict: Angus McNae analyses the Nunthorpe
FOLEY HAS FAITH IN LUCKY VEGA
Shane Foley expects the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes to be one of the races of the weekend as he prepares to ride Lucky Vega against Battleground and Master Of The Seas at the Curragh.
Lucky Vega arrives on the back of arguably the most impressive performance by a juvenile this season in the Phoenix Stakes, when Jessica Harrington’s youngster quickened away to win by three and a half lengths.
Sunday’s assignment represents a different task – with Aidan O’Brien’s Chesham winner Battleground and the Charlie Appleby-trained Superlative Stakes scorer Master Of The Seas in opposition – but Foley is feeling confident.
“From day one he’s always been a nice horse,” said Foley, speaking on an Irish Champions Weekend preview.
Foley tells Donn McClean about his rides at The Curragh on Sunday
“He had a little hold-up after his maiden win, which meant it was a bit of a rush getting to the Railway Stakes. He got beat in that, but improved no end for it and showed what he was capable of in the Phoenix.
“He’s laid-back, so should have no problem going up to seven furlongs. Looking at it, it looks one of the races of the weekend – with Battleground and Master Of The Seas.”
Battleground followed up his Ascot win in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood, and now gets to race closer to home.
“He’s a big, powerful horse and has done very well physically since Goodwood – and we’re looking forward to running him,” said O’Brien. “He’s handled good ground and slowish ground.”
Appleby has won the last two editions of the National Stakes with the ill-fated Quorto and last year’s champion juvenile Pinatubo – so is bidding for a hat-trick.
“He worked nicely during the week, and we’re very pleased with him,” said the Godolphin trainer.
Charlie Appleby told Nick Luck more about Master Of The Seas after his latest Newmarket win
“It’s going to be a good race. I saw Battleground at Ascot and I was at Goodwood when he won. I respect Jessica Harrington’s horse as well – he won the Phoenix well.
“Thankfully it’s a race we’ve had a bit of luck in in recent years, and it would be nice to continue it.”
Joseph O’Brien’s Thunder Moon bolted up on his debut, but lacks in experience compared to the others.
“Obviously it’s a big step up in class from a maiden straight into a Group One, but we didn’t have many other options,” said the Owning Hill trainer.
“He’s in at the deep end, but couldn’t have won his debut any easier.”
Ken Condon’s Laws Of Indices had Lucky Vega behind him when winning the Railway but was then only fourth in the Phoenix.
“He’s not ground dependent, and he’s a very straightforward horse,” said Condon. "Physically, he’s doing very well. I’m very happy with where he’s at – he looks a picture, and I think he’ll give a good showing.”
Jim Bolger’s Mac Swiney is another who has Group race-winning form to his name – over course and distance in the Futurity Stakes.
PRETTY GORGEOUS HEADS O'BRIEN FILLIES IN MOYGLARE
The Moyglare Stud Stakes appears likely to be dominated by the O’Brien family, with Aidan and his two sons Joseph and Donnacha all saddling major contenders.
The hot favourite is Joseph O’Brien’s Pretty Gorgeous following her impressive display in the Debutante Stakes over the course and distance three weeks ago.
“I’m looking forward to running her – she’s a very exciting filly,” said the Piltown handler. “She couldn’t have been any more impressive last time in very heavy going. Obviously she handled that, but she’s also won on better ground, so she’s versatile ground-wise.”
Pretty Gorgeous is reopposed by Donnacha O’Brien’s Debutante runner-up Shale and Aidan O’Brien’s Debutante third Mother Earth.
Donnacha O’Brien said: “It will be tough to beat Joseph’s filly, but I’m hoping that on nicer ground we can get a bit closer and possibly even put it up to her.”
Aidan O’Brien, who also runs recent Flame of Tara Stakes winner Divinely, said: “Mother Earth ran a nice race in the Debutante. We were feeling our way up to seven furlongs and didn’t want to boldly expose her. We were happy with the run and hope she might progress.
“Divinely is like her sister Found, who was able to compete at seven and was very comfortable when she stepped up to a mile – she’s very likeable in everything she does.”
TWILIGHT TIME IN ST LEGER
Classic honours are up for grabs in the Comer Group Irish St Leger, for which Twilight Payment is the likely favourite for Joseph O’Brien, after landing both the Vintage Crop Stakes and the Curragh Cup over the course and distance this season.
O’Brien said: “He’s seven, but he ran a career-best last time on figures.
“He’ll probably need to do so again, but if he does, it puts him right in the mix. We’re excited about running him and we’re hopeful of a good performance.”
Aidan O’Brien saddles last year’s Irish Derby hero Sovereign, who was last seen chasing home Enable in the King George, as well as three-year-old filly Passion.
Dermot Weld’s defending champion Search For A Song, Jessica Harrington’s Barbados, the Willie Mullins-trained Micro Manage and Luke Comer’s Raa Atoll complete the home team, with Roger Varian’s Ebor winner Fujaira Prince flying the flag for Britain.
WAND TO WEAVE SOME MAGIC?
Aidan O’Brien’s globetrotting mare Magic Wand sets the standard on ratings in the Group Two Moyglare “Jewels” Blandford Stakes.
So far this season the daughter of Galileo has won the Lanwades Stud Stakes, placed fourth in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown and finished fifth in the Nassau at Goodwood.
O’Brien said: “It’s a nice race to break her into the autumn – she’ll probably go on her travels after this.
“We’re not sure how far we can go. We think we can go to Hong Kong and America, but we have to do the quarantine beforehand. They would be the two big ones on her agenda.”
Jessica Harrington has a strong hand, with both One Voice and Cayenne Pepper bringing top-level form to the table.
Joseph O’Brien also fires a couple of bullets in Bolleville and Thunder Nights, and said of the latter: “She won at the Curragh last time, beating Albigna, and won very well.
“She’s a filly who has just improved and improved all season. We’re really looking forward to running her.”
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