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McCreery hoping for Curragh rain as Lustown Baba takes Ballyogan test

Willie McCreery is praying for rain ahead of Lustown Baba’s bid for a third Curragh success in Wednesday’s Qatar Racing And Equestrian Club Ballyogan Stakes.

The four-year-old bolted up in handicap company at the Kildare circuit in October – and followed up in the Listed Testimonial Stakes just four days later.

She ran her best race of the season so far when a narrowly beaten runner-up to Snapraeterea in the Owenstown Stud Stakes at Naas on her latest outing and her trainer is hopeful of another bold showing – provided the ground is suitable.

McCreery said: “You’d hope she’d run a big race. We had soft ground, but we’re after having two beautiful days here and she does need a bit of cut in the ground.

“There’s meant to be a few local thunder showers tomorrow, so hopefully we get a few of them.

“She’s in good shape. You’d just love the ground to be on the soft side for her.”

The Rathbride handler also saddles Star In The Making in the six-furlong Group Three. She is rated 11lb inferior to her stablemate, however, and appears to have her work cut out.

“She’s got to improve and we’re just hunting for black type for her,” McCreery added.

“She’s a very honest filly and I think six furlongs is her trip.”

The likely favourite is Paddy Twomey’s Sonaiyla, who is also a dual Curragh winner and has never finished out of the first three in six previous appearances at the track.

The daughter of Dark Angel was beaten just a length into third place in the Group One Flying Five Stakes last autumn and can be expected to improve from her comeback third in the Greenlands Stakes less than a fortnight ago.

Other hopefuls include Ken Condon’s Thunder Beauty – last seen finishing down the field in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket – and her stable companion Teresa Mendoza.

The main supporting race on Wednesday’s card is the Listed Sky Bet Orby Stakes.

Joseph O’Brien’s Patrick Sarsfield is favourite with the race sponsors on what will be his first competitive outing since finishing second to the top-class Skalleti in the Prix Dollar at ParisLongchamp in October.

Aidan O’Brien is represented by Lough Derg, who has has finished behind the yard’s Derby favourite Bolshoi Ballet on his last couple of appearances, while Donnacha O’Brien runs Nicest, who was last seen placing third in the Cheshire Oaks.

Lustown Baba cruises to Curragh Listed victory

Lustown Baba handled the step up to Listed company with aplomb when cruising to victory in the TRM Waterford Testimonial Stakes at the Curragh.

Willie McCreery’s three-year-old filly had won a handicap at the track from a mark of 84 only on Sunday.

Raised 16lb in the ratings for that success, she looks set for another hefty hike – given the manner of her latest victory.

Settled off the pace by Leigh Roche, she steadily picked them off before joining Denis Hogan’s star and winner of the race last year, Make A Challenge.

Roche then needed to give the filly only a shake of the reins to leave Make A Challenge swiftly behind, winning by two and a quarter lengths.

Lustown Baba (5-2) well and truly falls into the category of ‘when a filly starts to improve you never know when they are going to stop’.

“That ground was holding today, but Leigh said she loved it,” said McCreery.

“I thought she was a bit too far back – but Declan (McDonogh who rode another McCreery, runner Downforce, who finished third)  said they went very hard early on, so it probably suited her.

“I thought she did it well there – she loved that ground and is an improving filly. She’s an exciting filly for next year.

“It was tacky today, (and) Leigh was out the back, but there is no muck on him.”

McCreery has taken a patient approach with Lustown Baba so far, and will continue to do so.

He added: “The (Back Road, owners) syndicate were patient with us last year and have been patient this year, because they were looking for races during the summer but I said ‘lads we can’t run this one on quick ground yet as she’s a big filly and needs more time’.

“Their patience has paid off. I’m delighted for Finn Sheedy, who bred her, as I think that’s the first black-type in the family.

“That’s it for the year – she’s had two quick runs. I thought she was far relaxed today, and what more could we ask of her?

“We’ll have plenty of time next year for her. She’s a fine, big filly.”