Madhmoon and trainer Kevin Prendergast
© Photo Healy Racing
Kevin Prendergast believes plans for Madhmoon should be clearer once he has made his seasonal return in Saturday’s Ballylinch Stud ‘Red Rocks’ 2,000 Guineas Trial Stakes at Leopardstown.
A son of Dawn Approach, Madhmoon won both his starts last season and created a real impression when triumphing on Irish Champions Weekend.
He is as low as 10-1 for Newmarket on May 4, if Prendergast decides to take on last year’s champion juvenile Too Darn Hot, and enjoyed a recent away day at Naas.
“We were happy with him at Naas last week and he’s been grand since, there’s not a bother on him,” said Prendergast.
“He is ready to get started. He has been to Naas and we’ve our own grass gallop ourselves, so he has done plenty.
“We’ve had no hold ups with him and everything is good. We’re looking forward to getting him started and then we’ll know where we are going.”
Aidan O’Brien did have two of his big guns entered in Ten Sovereigns and Magna Grecia, but chose instead to run Naas winner Never No More, San Andreas and The Irish Rover.
Fozzy Stack’s Wargrave, another recent victor, and Could Be King, having his first run under John Oxx’s name since Patrick Prendergast joined forces with the trainer, add further strength.
Joseph O’Brien’s Iridessa carries a 3lb penalty in the Ballylinch Stud ‘Priory Belle’ 1,000 Guineas Trial Stakes.
She won the Group One Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket last season and while O’Brien has high hopes, he has warned the filly is likely to progress for the outing.
O’Brien said: “Iridessa has wintered well and we are looking forward to getting her started for the year.
“It will be lovely, safe ground, a good track and it will be nice to get her started.
“It will be a big enough ask for her with a penalty and she will probably come forward for her first run, but she is very exciting and we are really looking forward to the year ahead.”
Sheila Lavery’s Lady Kaya, who acquitted herself well in several big races last season, appears to be one of her main rivals while Jim Bolger’s Operatic Export, who won her only start at two, is another fascinating contender.
Lavery said: “Lady Kaya is very fresh and ready to start. I’ve been very happy with her progress throughout the winter and this race at Leopardstown was always a natural starting point for her.
“She is very well and ready to run, but I would be slightly concerned about how she will handle the ground. I’m keen to get a run into her so she’ll take her chance and we’ll find out more about her.”
Aidan O’Brien runs Zagitova, but she has a lot of ground to make up on Iridessa from Newmarket having been beaten over 14 lengths in fifth.
Only six go to post in the P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes, with Aidan O’Brien responsible for three.
Broome looks the pick after chasing home Madhmoon at Leopardstown and finishing second in a Group One in France last term.
Sydney Opera House and Sovereign complete the Ballydoyle team.
Ger Lyons runs Pythion and Bolger is represented by Group Three winner Guaranteed, while Dermot Weld’s Tankerville steps up markedly in class having won his only race at two.
“This is a big step up for Tankerville. He is a strong, big colt but he has got to step up from winning a median auction maiden at Gowran Park to taking on some of the potentially best three-year-olds in Europe in the Ballysax Stakes,” said Weld, who enjoyed a four-timer earlier this week.
“I’m very happy with the horse and he’s very well. The horses are running very well at the moment and the Ballysax is a race that means a lot.
“My latest winner in the race was Harzand who went on to win the English and Irish Derby for me. It is a race that comes very early in the season, but it always takes a very good horse to win it and it tells you very quickly where you stand.”