Big Irish hopes in Meydan

Wed 16th Jan 2013, 14:37

photoMy Special J's
©Healy Racing Photos
Pat Shanahan is confident his Group Two-winning filly My Special J's can make a winning start to her three-year-old campaign in the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial at Meydan on Thursday.

Despite having to tackle testing conditions throughout 2012, My Special J's enjoyed a fine juvenile season, building on a couple of sound efforts in defeat by winning the Debutante Stakes at the Curragh in August.

She failed to fire on her final two starts at Group One level, but Shanahan is looking forward to seeing her return to the track on Tapeta this week.

"She travelled over to Dubai well, seems to have settled in well and seems in great form," said Shanahan.

"I think she's pretty straight and she has been working on the Tapeta and handles it very well.

"She is American bred and she surprised us last year how well she handled the soft ground in Ireland.

"She has to carry a penalty and you never know what you're up against with the local runners, but I'm expecting a big run."

There is a second Irish-trained representative in the seven-furlong conditions event in the shape of More Than Sotka, who County Tipperary-based trainer David Marnane acquired from France.

"The filly is having her first run on a synthetic surface but being by Dutch Art you would hope she'll handle it," said Marnane.

"She is also drawn wide in stall 10, but hopefully she'll give a good account of herself."

Later on the card Ger Lyons is looking forward to saddling The Reaper in the Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire Handicap.

The five-year-old was last seen winning at Dundalk in August and enjoyed a fine campaign at Meydan last year, but Lyons feels his charge is not yet at peak fitness.

"He's in great form, but I'd be gob-smacked if he doesn't come on for the run," said Lyons.

"He seemed happy this morning and he'll love the turf.

"I've done as much work as I can with him and it's time for him to have a race now.

"This time last year he was rated 100 and he's 110 now, so he has to give weight away tomorrow.

"Hopefully he'll keep progressing through the Carnival and can end up in some of the better races."

Fago good on British debut

Paul Nicholls' Fago was an impressive winner of the Betfred Double Delight Novices' Chase under Ruby Walsh at Newbury on Wednesday.