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Davison sights set on Flying Five for Mooneista

Mooneista is “100 per cent” on course for her second Group One assignment in the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh.

Jack Davison reports his vastly-improved filly to be thriving since her Sapphire Stakes victory last month, and ready to return over course and distance on Longines Irish Champions Weekend.

Mooneista is likely to face Gustavus Weston again on Sunday – among plenty more sprinting luminaries – having beaten Joe Murphy’s stable star into second in the Sapphire.

County Meath trainer Davison is confident of continued progress, however, from his three-year-old – who has already had one shot at the top level this summer, outrunning big odds to finish a creditable sixth in heavy ground at Royal Ascot in the Commonwealth Cup.

“Everything is 100 per cent,” he said, in anticipation of the Flying Five.

“We’re well on track and really looking forward to running her.

“The (Sapphire Stakes) form looks good, and she won really well the last day.

“So I wouldn’t be afraid to reoppose anything that ran against us in the Sapphire. We’re looking forward to seeing what else turns up, but we’ll be ready to go.”

Mooneista managed just a maiden win from seven attempts as a juvenile – although she did also finish second at Listed level.

She has been a revelation this season, as a Listed and most recently Group Two winner, rising more than a stone and a half in the ratings.

Davison was always convinced she would be capable of much better as she matures, however.

“I did really think that she was going to improve with age, because the pedigree would suggest that,” he said.

“Physically, she was only a handful last year – so I kind of thought she would grow as well, and the stronger they get with sprinters they tend to get a bit quicker as well.

“I thought she had the pace to make up into a black-type sprinter as a three-year-old, but she’s just shown me something extra this year.

“I think a big part of it is she needs a good gallop – the better the race, the better she’ll be, and she’s got her confidence now and knows how to race and finish.”

Gustavus Weston (left) may be among Mooneista's opponents again at the Curragh
Gustavus Weston (left) may be among Mooneista’s opponents again at the Curragh (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mooneista has clearly begun to show the benefit of her experience.

Davison added: “I just think sprinting takes a bit of practice, and I would put the extra improvement down to just her knowing exactly what to do now.

“I suppose last year she was just kind of figuring it out, and we got the win, and she got her black type – but I never really felt she had got it together yet.

“She has this year, and she’s shaping really well.”

Mooneista has shown she can be adaptable to ground variations

“She’s versatile,” said Davison.

Jack Davison hopes to have Colin Keane available again to ride Mooneista next week
Jack Davison hopes to have Colin Keane available again to ride Mooneista next week (PA)

“Over five, even if it came up heavy, it wouldn’t be ideal because she has pace – but I’d (still) be running her.

“She doesn’t want extremes really, but she’s going to run either way. She’s not likely to get an extreme of ground – most suitable for her would be easy side of good, in an ideal world.”

The hope is that dual champion jockey Colin Keane will be available to ride again, having clicked with Mooneista last time, but Davison is mindful that he could yet be claimed to ride Ger Lyons’ Frenetic if that old rival is in opposition again.

“We’ll just have to sit and wait a little bit,” he said.

“But I really hope we do have Colin, because he’s in a league of his own at the minute, and he’s really helped my filly.”

Davison sights set on Group One gold for Mooneista

A tilt at Group One glory is next on the agenda for Mooneista after providing Jack Davison with the biggest victory of his fledgling training career to date at the Curragh on Saturday.

Already a winner at Listed level and placed in a Group Three, the daughter of Dandy Man hinted at better things to come when sixth in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

Davison’s stable star duly produced a career-best performance to claim Group Two honours in the Sapphire Stakes and she will now be prepared for the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five over the same course and distance on September 12.

“She’s come out of the race 100 per cent – there’s not a bother on her,” said Davison.

“It was a really special day and will go down as one of the best of my life so far. It was great.

“I thought coming back to five furlongs on better ground, and knowing she’d taken the Ascot race well and was working well, I thought she had a big chance. I was hopeful of a first three finish, but to win like she did was extra pleasing, I suppose.

“Colin (Keane) said she travelled everywhere and he just had to push the button and off she went. The time was good and I think she actually won quite easily, to be honest.”

Whether Mooneista wins the Flying Five or not, she is set to return to action as a four-year-old next season.

The exciting filly carries the colours of the trainer’s mother Paula Davison, something that is not expected to change.

“The Flying Five is where we’ll go, all going well,” Davison added.

“She’ll go on any ground, but ideally she wouldn’t want it very soft or heavy. She’s not the biggest and it just blunts her speed, which is what happened in the Commonwealth Cup. If it was good ground there (Ascot), she would have been in the first three.

“I think we’ll stick to five furlongs. If she could win her Group One in the Flying Five, we’d probably call it a year and a great year at that and look forward to next year.

“She’ll run as a four-year-old and that will be it, I’d say. She’s a home-bred filly and my mum owns her, which makes it even more special.

“I think my mum would find it very hard to part with her. I’d say you’ll only be seeing her in my mother’s colours.”

Mooneista sparkles in Sapphire Stakes

Mooneista gave trainer Jack Davison his biggest success when storming home in the Group Two Paddy Power Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh.

The three-year-old came with a blistering run to complete a quick Group-race double for jockey Colin Keane after he had steered Beauty Inspire to victory in the Anglesey Stakes.

Mooneista (10-1) was held up in the early stages as Strong Johnson set the pace, with Make A Challenge, Gustavus Weston and Logo Hunter prominent.

It was all change in the final furlong as Mooneista burst on the scene to stamp his authority on proceedings and win by a length and a quarter. Gustavus Weston was second with Romantic Proposal third, a further two and three-quarter lengths away.

“I’m never short of words and this filly is able to walk the walk which is really good for both of us, she has backed me up,” said Davison.

“I’ve thought highly of her from her early days. To get her to develop and come and win these type of races on a big weekend is really pleasing.

“Colin is as cool as you like and he said it was a matter of pushing the button. He felt like he had loads of horse under him the whole way. She’s a little monster really.

“She’s in the Flying Five on Champions weekend so we’ll have a crack at that all going well.

“She’s ground versatile. There isn’t a whole lot of her so (Royal) Ascot was too soft, she can’t operate on that as she’s very quick. The easy side of good is probably perfect.

“This is absolutely huge. It’s a really tough game and it’s very hard to get these horses. I’m very lucky to have her.”

The County Meath-based handler went on: “We’ve 25 of them and we put a lot into training all of them. It’s just nice when you have one that can compete and win at this level. It really just keeps you going and encourages you to push forward.

“For me it’s about quality rather than quantity. It’s just so competitive in Ireland and I don’t see myself training low-grade horses in 10 or 15 years, trying to compete at that level.

“We are working hard to try to up the quality the whole time. We have some nice fillies and support from good owners.”

‘All systems go’ for Mooneista and Commonwealth Cup

Mooneista will fly the flag for Jack Davison and his family’s breeding operation when she travels to Royal Ascot to take on the Group One Commonwealth Cup.

The daughter of Dandy Man crossed the line in second place when making her Group Three debut in the Lacken Stakes at Naas on May 16, finishing just a neck behind Adrian McGuinness’ A Case Of You.

The second and third placings were later reversed as the stewards deemed the filly to have hampered Ger Lyons’ Power Under Me in the closing stages, but Davison was still impressed with how his three-year-old fared after starting as an 8-1 chance for the race.

“She was there to be shot at from 100 yards out,” he said.

“If we were to run the race again we would probably try to get there a little bit later, but having said that she ran an absolute blinder.”

Michael Browne’s Logo Hunter won the Listed Sole Power Sprint Stakes on the same Naas card, further solidifying Mooneista’s form as she was only narrowly beaten by the gelding when the two bays crossed paths at Cork in April.

“We gave Logo Hunter 5lb the day he beat us,” Davison said.

“There seems to be a very good depth to the Irish three-year-old division and she’s right up there.”

Davison reports Mooneista to be in good health at home following her Naas performance, with the six-furlong Commonwealth Cup next on her agenda when the Royal meeting rolls round in mid-June.

“She’s very, very well,” he said. “She’s putting on some size after Naas which is really good, being a sprinter that will hopefully translate to a bit more power.

“We’re really happy with how she’s doing physically considering she’s been busy.

“We’re all systems go for the Commonwealth Cup, that’s where we’ll go providing all goes well in the meantime.”

Accompanying the trainer to Royal Ascot will be his father, John, and mother, Paula, who own Mooneista having bred her from dam Moon Unit at their Killarkin Stud in County Meath.

The family had a tremendous time with Moon Unit when she was trained to six successes by Harry Rogers – including four at Listed level and a victory in the Group Three Greenlands Stakes.

One of Moon Unit’s Listed wins was achieved when she beat Dandy Man, Mooneista’s sire, in the 2006 Woodlands Stakes, a race that became the scene of a full-circle moment for the Davison family when Mooneista won the 2021 renewal and in doing so provided Davison with the most significant success of his training career thus far.

“She’s a home-bred and owned by my parents, it’s a great story really,” the trainer said.

“She was born and raised here, I probably foaled her myself and now I’m training her.

“She’s just an amazing animal, she just gives you 100 per cent – you can rely on her to give 100 per cent effort.

“Whenever you turn up to a race she’s just a professional, nothing bothers her, she knows what she was born to do.

“For me to have a horse of that calibre and that attitude, it’s the inspiration you need, it’s the reason we do the job.”

Given the family’s profound interest in the fortunes of Mooneista, it is unsurprising that a trip to Royal Ascot and the prospect of Group One glory is much anticipated.

“It’ll be an occasion to behold for us,” Davison said.

“We’re really excited for it, particularly my parents.

“I try to keep my eye on the ball day to day, I try not to get too far ahead as there’s a lot of work to be done at home on other horses – but having said that, I know it’ll be great day.”

Mooneista poised for Naas with Commonwealth Cup aspirations

Mooneista will test her Royal Ascot credentials as she lines up in Sunday’s Goffs Lacken Stakes at Naas.

The three-year-old secured a first Listed success when taking on older horses in the Woodlands Stakes over the minimum trip at the track last month and she will now switch back up to six furlongs in Group Three company.

Trainer Jack Davison is eager to see how his charge, who is owned and bred by his parents, fares – with a crack at Group One competition in next month’s Commonwealth Cup a possibility.

He said: “I’m actually working back from the Commonwealth Cup since the Woodlands Stakes. I decided that if we were to consider going for a Group One at Royal Ascot, we needed to up our game a bit, so from Listed into Group company is a good progression. That is the thought process behind it and going for the Lacken Stakes on Sunday.

“She did it nicely (in the Woodlands), but it was a story you couldn’t have written to be honest.

“Between my parents owning Mooneista’s dam, Moon Unit, and breeding Mooneista from her, and then Dandy Man, who is Mooneista’s sire, being second to Moon Unit in the Woodlands Stakes. And of course my parents bred the trainer as well!

“Mooneista continues to be progressive. I think we have to see the best of her, but I prefer to let the horse do the talking. She goes to Naas pending a bit of work, but she has been in flying form since winning and couldn’t be better.”

The Lacken Stakes is one of the highlights on the track’s Royal Ascot Trials Day and the prize has drawn 18 entries, including A Case Of You, Laws Of Indices and another course-and-distance winner in Pale Iris.

Aidan O’Brien could field impressive Naas scorer Contarelli Chapel in the Group Three Coolmore Stud Irish EBF Fillies Sprint Stakes, with Freedom Of Speech a possible for the Guineas-winning connections of Jim and Jackie Bolger after her win at the track last Saturday.

O’Brien could also hold the key to the Coolmore Stud Calyx Race as cosy Dundalk winner Cadamosto features among 11 contenders.

The Sole Power Sprint Stakes includes a host of familiar names headed by Make A Challenge, Urban Beat, Indigo Balance and Harry’s Bar, while 21 are in contention for the Owenstown Stud Stakes over seven furlongs, with Harpocrates, Lunar Space and Darwell Lion taking the eye.