GBI RACING

Hopes high for Mabs Cross challenge on Sapphire Stakes

Mabs Cross ran a fine race in the King's Stand

Michael Dods would like to think there is even more improvement in Mabs Cross as the filly heads to to Ireland for the Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.

The four-year-old has taken a step forward with every run this season, and last time out produced a career-best to be third in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot.

Dods certainly has a knack with speedy females, having trained dual Nunthorpe winner Mecca’s Angel and Queen Mary runner-up Easton Angel in recent seasons.

“We think this looks a nice race for her, as it is five furlongs on a stiff track, but it is just a shame that Paul Mulrennan is injured. Tome Eaves will ride her,” said Dods.

“There’ll be plenty of pace with Caspian Prince, she’s nicely drawn so hopefully she runs a big race.

“It’s hard to say if there’s more in the tank, she has improved all the way through her career, but because she’s always there at the finish she gets hard races, she never gives herself an easy race.

“We gave her 10 days off after Ascot and she freshened up, we’re happy with her but it’s a Group Two, it won’t be easy.

“If they got a shower or two that would be great, we wouldn’t want it rattling fast, more for the fact it just slows the others down. She’s fine on good to firm, but she wouldn’t let herself down on firm ground.

“The ground was quick at Ascot, but it was in fantastic order and we got the best of it on the first day.”

Caspian Prince is a regular visitor to Ireland and now with Mick Appleby as a nine-year-old is as good as ever.

Appleby said: “He is in very good order and he should have a very good chance. He ran a blinder last time in the Rockingham, he was just done on the nod. Off that weight it was a good performance really.

“The handicapper put him up 4lb for that and he is off 118 now which is the highest mark he has been on in his life.

“I think he will take some beating. The ground will be quick enough for him. This race was the plan after last time and after this he will go for the Flying Five. He is as good as gold at home.”

Karl Burke’s Havana Grey is a third British challenger, but so far has not recreated the smart juvenile form he showed last season.

“He seems in very good form. We were going to go straight to Goodwood, but he’s quite a stuffy horse and we felt we’d get another run in,” said Burke.

“Whatever he does I think he’ll improve from the run.

“He’s a typical three-year-old sprinter and I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet this year. Our horses weren’t really firing when he ran at Newmarket and it was probably the same when he ran at Haydock. We didn’t really hit form until June.

“He’s had one or two little issues, which hopefully we’ve ironed out now and we’re looking forward to running him this weekend.”

Aidan O’Brien runs three – Washington DC, Battle Of Jericho and Declarationofpeace – with Henry de Bromhead’s Gorane the other runner.

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