Paul Mulrennan is relishing the opportunity to bid for Group One glory aboard Que Amoro in the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.
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.
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 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.
“I’m really looking forward to the weekend for her.”
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.”
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.
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.”