Any rain at the Curragh would be welcomed by Ken Condon, as he prepares to saddle Moss Tucker in the Rathasker Stud Phoenix Sprint Stakes.
The Excelebration gelding has not been disgraced since downing Tenebrism at Cork at the beginning of the year and was last seen finishing third to Art Power at the track in the Sapphire Stakes last month.
A Listed winner over course and distance in testing ground last October, the five-year-old thrives when the mud flies and his handler is eager to see a drop of rain at the Kildare track to add some further ease to the ground ahead of the Group Three contest.
“He ran very well last time and although he was no match for Art Power, in the main he is very consistent and he’s been in very good form since,” said Condon.
“The forecast is unsettled and any more rain will be most welcome for him, he’s obviously at his best when it’s testing conditions. At the moment it is nice ground, but any rain will be welcome.
“I think he’s probably at his best over five furlongs on soft ground, but it is a case if he doesn’t go there, then he’s probably sat on the sidelines for a little while.
“With this unusual weather at the moment, we might be able to take advantage of it, but it is hard to know how much rain the Curragh will get. It is forecast and hopefully a bit will fall.
“It’s a nice Group Three contest and we’re hopeful of a good run.”
Adrian McGuinness’ Go Athletico was just ahead of Moss Tucker when chasing home Art Power for a silver medal in the Sapphire Stakes and is another looking to make his mark in the six-furlong contest.
Bought by owners Team Valor International and Shamrock Thoroughbreds for €165,000 in the spring, he has made a good impression since joining McGuinness and the handler is expecting a bold bid.
“We’re looking forward to a big run,” said McGuinness.
“We were very happy with him the last day and he ran into a good horse. He actually had quite an easy race because Colin (Keane, jockey) was easy on him when the other horse had gone and we were well beaten.
“I’m expecting a very big run from him and he did a lovely piece of work the other day. Ronan Whelan rides him and I think he’ll run a huge race – I’ll be disappointed if he’s beat.
“I know sprints can go either way and it can depend on split-second decisions, but he is a very exciting horse to have and I definitely do think he is going to improve a bit more.”
The sole UK raider in the contest is Michael Dods’ Commanche Falls, who was a Listed winner over the track and trip on his penultimate start before following up in the Hackwood Stakes at Newbury.
The six-year-old has only once finished outside the first three this term and the Darlington-based handler is confident his speedster is in good order ahead of his hat-trick bid.
Dods said: “Drying ground would be a help but he’s in good form, he’s won there. It’s going to be competitive but we’re hoping for a good run.
“He hated the ground at Newbury last time but still did well and it’s hard for these sort of horses because there are not a lot of races around. It was either back to Ireland or we don’t go anywhere.
“We’re under no illusions and it will be a decent race, but we hope he will run his race and run well.”