Johnny Murtagh is planning to pitch the lightly-raced Cadeau Belle into Group One company in next week’s Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.
The three-year-old looked progressive in winning her first two starts, in a Gowran maiden and a Navan Listed heat, before being upped to Group Three level for the Valiant Stakes at Ascot in July.
Sent off the 15-8 favourite that day, Cadeau Belle was keen from the off and eventually finished last of the nine runners in the mile affair.
Murtagh hopes the application of a hood can help manage her eager attitude and is favouring sending the daughter of Harry Angel for the top-level event, rather than taking up her alternate entry in the Group Two Dullingham Park Stakes.
He said: “I’m not sure what happened to her the last time, I really fancied her going to Ascot. (Jamie) Spencer said she was too keen and boiled over at the start, she has a hood on now so I think we might go for the Matron.
“I know it’s going to be a good race, but it’s the kind of race I had in mind all the time. We will probably let her take her chance there.
“She’s been working well again, the hood is on and that should help her relax.”
Ladies Church could also fly the Group One flag for the yard in the Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Flying Five Stakes.
The four-year-old was a Group Two winner last year but has yet to sparkle in three runs this term, with Murtagh thinking soft ground had gone against her twice while last week’s Nunthorpe had a lightning early pace.
The trainer said: “I ran her on soft ground twice this year and she didn’t really like it. I fancied her a little bit going to York last week but they went so fast she never really got on the bridle. She will go for the Flying Five.”
Mashhoor recorded a hat-trick earlier in the season, taking the notable scalp of Al Riffa in the Group Three International Stakes, but he found it tough going in the York Stakes on his latest run, coming last of five – albeit beaten just four lengths by Alflaila.
The five-year-old will now switch back up in trip for the Paddy Power Stakes.
Murtagh said: “Mashhoor is going to run in the mile-and-a-half Group Three at Leopardstown. He has a 3lb penalty and I know it will be tough, but he’s in good form and came out of the race at York really well.”
Angels Wrath and Take Heart are both in the mix for the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Northfields’ Handicap over 10 furlongs, with Murtagh rating the latter as one of his best chances of victory at the two-day Irish Champions Festival.
He said: “Take Heart is a nice horse in the mile-and-a-quarter Northfields Handicap at the Curragh. I think he’s rated 92, he’s a three-year-old who might sneak in at the bottom of it. I think he’d be one of our better chances – he’s really going well at the moment.
“Angels Wrath will run in the mile-and-a-quarter handicap on the Sunday. She’s been Listed-placed and we’re trying to get a stakes win with her, it’s just tough. She’s 96 rated and I think maybe the mile-and-a-quarter handicap will suit her well.”
Kerkiyra holds an entry over the big weekend, but Murtagh has another target in mind for the four-year-old, who won the ‘Northfields’ last year.
He said: “I was going to run in the mile-and-a-quarter handicap but I might keep her for the Group Three the following week in Gowran, the Denny Cordell Lavarack & Lanwades Stud Fillies Stakes.
“She stayed to try to get a stakes win with her. She ran well the first time but it knocked the stuffing out of her a bit and it’s taken a while, so she’s coming back and is hopefully capable of winning a Listed race.”
Shartash, winner of last year’s Railway Stakes, is another who will be looking away from the Irish showpiece event, with a Curragh trip later in September on the cards after he fluffed the start in the Phoenix Sprint recently.
Murtagh said: “Shartash messed up the last time in the stalls, I thought he might win the last day and then go to the Haydock Sprint Cup. We might keep him for the Renaissance, a Group Three.”