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Sam Maximus camp hope home turf suits at Newbury

Owner John Dance is banking on a return to racing closer to home to spark Sam Maximus back to his best form in the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes.

The Tom Dascombe-trained juvenile won on his debut at Haydock and went on to be beaten only half a length by Lusail in the July Stakes at Newmarket, just behind Asymmetric and in front of Ebro River.

He has failed to reproduce that form in two runs since in France and Ireland, without being disgraced, but Dance feel less travelling could be in his favour on Saturday.

“Our intention is to run him,” he said.

“We flirted with dropping him back to five furlongs, because he hasn’t really seen out his last two races.

“In France, he just didn’t see it out because of the soft ground, while in Ireland he had no real excuse. The only thing we could think was that he didn’t take to travelling abroad, so we want to give him another shot at six furlongs in this country.

“Newbury should suit him – he ran well at Haydock, and they’re not dissimilar. This will possibly be his last run of the season, because we want to try and look after him and see if he can improve as a three-year-old. Our priority is to see a return to form.”

Dascombe relishes ‘serious chance’ with Sam Maximus

Trainer Tom Dascombe is bullish about the prospects of Sam Maximus in the Heider Family Stables Round Tower Stakes at the Curragh on Friday.

The son of Showcasing has strong Group-race form, particularly from the July Stakes at Newmarket – where he was only beaten half a length in third place behind Lusail.

The winner has gone on to land the Gimcrack Stakes, and runner-up Asymmetric took the Richmond – while Ebro River, who was fourth, has lifted the Group One Phoenix Stakes.

Sam Maximus then went down by a length when fourth in a Group Three contest at Deauville this month.

“The form is solid, and we must go there with a very good chance,” said Dascombe.

“We didn’t have him entered in many big races. It looks like a serious chance of getting a Group winner.”

Drombeg Banner steps up in class and trip after opening his account in a Cork maiden over five furlongs, but his trainer Ken Condon has plenty of faith in the Starspangledbanner gelding.

“He’s a nice horse. I think he has a decent future ahead of him,” said the County Kildare trainer.

“A step up is required. He’s just come from maiden company, but he won it nicely.

Trainer Ken Condon has high hopes at the Curragh
Trainer Ken Condon has high hopes at the Curragh (PA)

“The ground will be a bit drier, but I don’t think that will inconvenience him.

“We’ll see where we’re going afterwards, but we think he’s up to that standard and hope he’ll run well.”

Andy Slattery is hoping the ground does not dry out too much for Solene Lilyette in the Group Three Snow Fairy Fillies’ Stakes.

He said: “She’s been in great shape since the last day. She has to improve, but Andrew (son and jockey) said he had a bit left.

“He thought she won snug enough, and I don’t see why there’s any reason why she won’t improve again.

“We’ll see, but the ground wouldn’t want to dry up much more because I don’t want to chance her on good to firm ground. The ground is lovely at the moment, and we’ll see how it is in the morning. Everything else is good, (so) hopefully she’ll run.”

Carrytheone returns after almost a year off, in the Irish Cambridgeshire
Carrytheone returns after almost a year off, in the Irish Cambridgeshire (PA)

The third Group Three heat on the card is the Manguard Plus Irish EBF Flame Of Tara Stakes, in which Joseph O’Brien saddles Naas maiden winner Albula.

His father Aidan is two-handed, with newcomer Lullaby and Kiss You Later.

Johnny Murtagh, fresh from his success with Sonnyboyliston in the Ebor at York, rests his hopes in the Paddy Power Irish Cambridgeshire with Carrytheone.

The four-year-old won twice over course and distance last season but has been absent for 335 days.

Murtagh said: “It’s been a bit of a stop start season with a few niggly injuries, and he hasn’t had a run. He’s in good shape and is as fit as I can get him – although I expect him to come on for the run.

“He loves The Curragh so the track is not a worry, and the ground should be lovely.”

Condon saddles big-handicap regular Ice Cold In Alex.

“He’s been a standing dish in some of those races over the years. It was great he got another win under his belt recently,” he said.

“He’s up to a career high of 88, so it will be tough ask, but the young lad’s 7lb claim will alleviate some of that.

“He always seems to run well at the Curragh – but it’s a big field, and a bit of luck is required.”

The Slattery stable are giving Dedillon the chance to see if she is up to this level, after winning a 16-runner handicap at Galway.

“She’s in good form – but whether she’s up to this class I don’t know,” said the Thurles trainer.

“The handicapper has her on 87 now – which to me seems a high rating – but we’ll just have to go and see what happens. There is nowhere else to go with her, so we might as well have a go.”