Dunboyne camp praying for rain

CONNECTIONS of Dunboyne Express are praying for soft conditions at the Curragh for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby on Sunday.

The Shamardal colt, trained by Kevin Prendergast, disappointed on good to firm in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the County Kildare track when he was only fifth behind Roderic O’Connor.

Dunboyne Express has also yet to prove he stays as he has yet to run beyond a mile.

“We were disappointed with him in the Irish Guineas,” said the colt’s regular jockey Declan McDonogh.

“The main reason for it, we think, was because of the ground. It was pretty firm on the day and he possibly doesn’t act on it. If he stays and it rains he could run into the money. There’s no point saying he’s going to be in the first three.

“We are going into the unknown a little, but he does handle soft ground if it turned out that way.

“He’s in great form. I worked him on Tuesday morning on the grass. He felt great and handled it very well.”

Meanwhile, Michael Mulvany is optimistic Tough As Nails will stay six furlongs when he returns to action in the Dubai Duty Free Railway Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.

The son of Dark Angel has not run since being beaten a short head by Power, the subsequent Coventry Stakes winner, in the Listed Marble Hill Stakes over the minimum trip at the venue five weeks ago.

Mulvany had toyed with the idea of taking his star two-year-old to Royal Ascot, but gave it a miss as he felt conditions would be too quick.

“At the moment he’s going to run on Sunday,” said the Navan trainer. “You’d be hopeful he’d get the trip all right. We haven’t really tried him over six.

“He should stay, but you don’t know until you try. The only time you really get to know is in a race.”

Richard Hannon is planning to send Lilbourne Lad for the race following his recent Irish success.

The Acclamation colt added to his debut win at Doncaster with a stylish six-length verdict in the Listed Rochestown Stakes at Naas.

Hannon said: “He goes over there at the weekend, although I’m not sure what Aidan’s (O’Brien) going to run.”

Meanwhile, Hannon’s link with the Coolmore empire bore fruit again yesterday after Pink Sapphire took the British Stallion Studs EBF Ashbrittle Stud Maiden Fillies’ Stakes at Salisbury.

The chestnut is the first to carry the colours of the powerful owner-breeding operation, who bought into last week’s Queen Anne winner Canford Cliffs.

There should be more to be heard from Pink Sapphire, the 4-11 favourite on account of her fourth-placed finish on her debut at Haydock, and she collected with plenty in hand for Richard Hughes.

“I like her a lot,” said Hannon.

“She’s the first I’ve had for Coolmore and I thought she would win last time but it turned out to be a very good race.

“She might just end up going for the Cherry Hinton Stakes.”

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