Lord to lap up fast ground at Leopardstown

Karl Burke expects Lord Of The Lodge to relish forecast lively ground on his return to turf in the Group Three Ballycorus Stakes at Leopardstown on Thursday.

Lord Of The Lodge spent the winter and early spring plying his trade to good effect at Britain’s all-weather tracks, predominantly over seven furlongs.

Those efforts have returned three placings, including a second behind Mums Tipple in the Listed Lady Wulfruna Stakes at Wolverhampton, and most recently a victory in the Bombardier All-Weather Championships Apprentice Handicap on Lingfield’s Good Friday card.

Burke hopes the four-year-old’s experience round a bend over that trip will serve him well at Leopardstown.

“We’re looking forward to seeing him run,” said the Middleham trainer.

“He’s in great form – it looks a competitive race, but a race I think he can run well in.

“The track should suit. The ground is fast, and he loves fast ground.

“He’s clicked on the all-weather nicely. He’d never raced around a bend until the first time we sent him to Wolverhampton – he didn’t run great that day but he’s gradually got the hang of running round a bend, so that shouldn’t hold any fears for us.”

Among Lord Of The Lodge’s opponents is Kevin Prendergast’s Monaasib, who was last seen finishing eighth in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

That performance was only the second time the Shadwell Estate-owned colt has been unplaced in his eight career starts, and Prendergast believes heavy ground was the reason.

“He’s in good shape,” said the veteran trainer.

“I’d say in the Guineas the ground was so bad, he just ran poorly.”

The use of headgear may also bring about a return to form, with Prendergast fitting a visor to Monaasib for the first time.

“He runs in a visor – he’s a bit of a lazy boyo,” he said.

“We just thought a visor might make him travel better.”

Speak In Colours is one of two runners for Joseph O’Brien, with Snapraeterea also representing the yard after his third place in the Gallinule Stakes.

Paddy Twomey will saddle his filly Pearls Galore, who runs for the first time since Dundalk in November, with Michael Halford’s Surrounding also making her seasonal reappearance after contesting the same Listed race last time.

Ger Lyons’ Soul Search bids to build on her two placed Group runs this season – with Jessica Harrington’s Real Appeal, Ross O’Sullivan’s Koolasice, Jim Bolger’s Smash Williams and Aidan O’Brien’s Admiral Nelson all set to line up too.

Monaasib putting big-race claims to the test at Leopardstown

Monaasib, who was last seen chasing home Derby favourite High Definition, is set to make his first start of the new campaign in the Ballylinch Stud “Red Rocks” 2,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown.

Kevin Prendergast’s colt won twice from six starts as a juvenile in 2020, before rounding off his campaign with a runner-up finish behind the Aidan O’Brien-trained High Definition in September’s Beresford Stakes at the Curragh.

On the strength of that form, Monaasib is the highest-rated of 12 runners declared for Sunday’s Listed contest – but his trainer warns he will check on ground conditions before committing to a run.

Prendergast said: “He’s in good shape and working nice, but if the ground is very, very fast he could be doubtful.

“Everyone is talking about High Definition as a champion. He came from behind and chinned us in the Beresford.

“Our horse has done well during the winter and is ready to rock and roll, but we will check on the ground.”

Monaasib’s rivals include A Case Of You, who won the Group Three Anglesey Stakes for John McConnell last autumn, and recently made a successful first start for Ado McGuinness at Dundalk.

“I’m very happy with him. I was delighted with his first run back at Dundalk,” said McGuinness.

“I suppose the question is will he stay or will he not. Hopefully he settles. I’m a little concerned about the ground, but I think we’ll have plenty of showers beforehand and Leopardstown always do a good job of the ground.

“I’m hopeful of a very big run to keep the dream alive.”

He added: “He won over seven furlongs in a maiden at Down Royal before we got him and he was a two-year-old then and he’s three now.

“He probably needs to improve another three or four pounds, but I think he will. He’s second in on the ratings behind Kevin’s horse.

“If he settles I think he’ll stay no problem. He’s not in the Irish Guineas, we hadn’t got him when the entries closed. We could have supplemented the other day, but decided we’d wait and see how he did in this. He’s in the English and German Guineas.

“If he doesn’t stay we can look at Plan B, which will probably include the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.”

Aidan O’Brien has saddled the last four winners of the 2,000 Guineas Trial and this year fires a three-pronged assault, with Merchants Quay, Matchless and Horoscope all in contention.

Jim Bolger’s Poetic Flare, Laws Of Indices from Ken Condon’s yard and Joseph O’Brien’s pair of Snapraeterea and Magnanimous also feature.

Group Three honours are up for grabs in the following Ballylinch Stud “Priory Belle” 1,000 Guineas Trial, in which Donnacha O’Brien’s Moyglare Stud Stakes heroine Shale sets the standard.

Prendergast is looking forward to saddling Frankel filly Mehnah, who faces a significant step up in class after winning on her racecourse debut at Dundalk in September.

“We’ll find out whether she’s up to Classic standard or not – that’s the idea,” Prendergast added.

“She won a small maiden in Dundalk and seems to have wintered well and come on well.

“She’s coated out and looks well and we’re hoping for the best.”

Aidan O’Brien is again triply represented by More Beautiful, Empress Josephine and Joan Of Arc, as is son Joseph, with Sense Of Style, Messidor and My Generation declared.

Subsequent Derby heroes Galileo (2001) and High Chaparral (2002) are among Aidan O’Brien’s 10 previous winners of the P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes, which also features on Sunday’s card.

Bolshoi Ballet and Lough Derg are the Ballydoyle representatives this time around, while Donnacha and Joseph saddle Fernando Vichi and Isle Of Sark respectively.

Bolger’s Flying Visit and Dermot Weld’s Wuqood, who were split by just a head when first and second in the Eyrefield Stakes here in October, are also in the mix.