Mooneista primed for Sapphire defence at the Curragh

Jack Davison is targeting back-to-back victories in the Barberstown Castle Sapphire Stakes for his star filly Mooneista at the Curragh on Saturday.

The four-year-old kept on gamely to land the Group Two by one and a quarter lengths in the hands of Colin Keane 12 months ago and the Irish champion jockey will be on board once again as she bids for a repeat.

That victory last year remains Mooneista’s sole Group-level triumph, but she has become a performer of the utmost consistency in the sprinting division and although yet to get her head in-front this term, has done little to diminish her reputation.

The daughter of Dandy Man stayed on gamely to finish fourth in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot when last in action and her trainer is keen to see a change in fortune at a track that plays to her strengths.

“I’m expecting a big run, hopefully she will be there at the business end as she was last year,” said Davison.

“She’s made plenty of good efforts in defeat so far this season, so hopefully we can get the win, that would be great. She seems to really operate at the Curragh over a stiff five, so conditions are right for her. Hopefully we get a bit of luck.”

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Another in the line-up proven at the Curragh is two-time course winner Castle Star, who is set to return from a 294-day layoff and make his first appearance at three.

Castle Star, here ridden by Chris Hayes (second left) on their way to winning the Marble Hill Stakes, makes his return on Saturday at the Curragh
Castle Star, here ridden by Chris Hayes (second left) on their way to winning the Marble Hill Stakes, makes his return on Saturday at the Curragh (Brian Lawless/PA)

The son of Starspangledbanner landed the Marble Hill Stakes over track and trip last season, before finishing second to Go Bears Go in the Railway Stakes and rounding off his campaign with a silver medal behind Perfect Power when travelling to Newmarket for the Middle Park Stakes.

Trainer Fozzy Stack said: “He had a little hiccup in the spring, so is a little later starting back. He seems in good order, he’s ready to start back, but will probably need the run as he hasn’t run for quite a while.

“We’re looking forward to him running and seeing where we stand.”

Equilateral finished a place behind Mooneista at Royal Ascot when returning from 444 days off the track and will be searching for a bit of luck having encountered severe trouble in running when tried in the Coral Charge at Sandown last time out.

Charlie Hills’ seven-year-old is one of two UK raiders alongside Karl Burke’s Last Crusader, who was an impressive winner at York earlier this season, but is now tried in blinkers following a disappointing performance in the Temple Stakes at Haydock.

Joseph O’Brien’s Brostaigh made it three wins from her last four when picking up the Group Two Prix du Gros-Chene at Chantilly. The progressive daughter of Footstepsinthesand will be bidding to continue on her upwards curve and has to be respected in search of a hat-trick.

Ryan Moore has chosen to ride Cadamosto out of the Ballydoyle pair, with stablemate New York City set to be partnered by Wayne Lordan and tried in first-time blinkers.

Cadamosto was not beaten far when fourth in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, but does have a couple of questions to answer having failed to show his best at Newmarket in the July Cup last week.

Moore told Betfair: “He clearly didn’t run his race in the July Cup last week, but he is a very smart sprinter on his day and he had previously posted a career-best when fourth in the Commonwealth Cup.

“That puts him amongst the form horses in here and five furlongs on decent ground will be fine for him. It’s a tough, competitive race, though.”

Cork’s Midsummer Sprint winner Geocentric looks to add to that Listed prize, stepping up in trip representing Ger Lyons, while the field is rounded off by Johnny Murtagh’s Ladies Church, who was a beaten favourite at Royal Ascot when last seen.

ohnny Murtagh is looking forward to saddling Ladies Church in the Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh
Johnny Murtagh is looking forward to saddling Ladies Church in the Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh (Donall Farmer/PA)

That was only the second time the daughter of Churchill had finished outside the first three in her seven-race career and Murtagh said: “We’re very happy with her, she’s in good shape.

“This is the race we had in mind for her after Ascot, it’s just up the road at the Curragh and we’re looking forward to getting her out again.”

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