Michael Hills believes Maids Causeway has improved for her second place in the 1000 Guineas but is not sure whether his mount will be able to reverse placings with Virginia Waters at the Curragh on Sunday.
The two were separated by two and a half lengths at Newmarket and renew rivalry in the Boylesports Irish 1000 Guineas.
Maids Causeway was having her first run of the season that day having enjoyed a superb juvenile campaign that included a second to Playful Act in the Group One Fillies’ Mile at Ascot last autumn.
Hills, who rides Maids Causeway for his father Barry, said “She’s done very well since, the boys at home tell me she has improved.
“It is hard to say if she can beat Virginia Waters as she may have improved too, but we have every chance.”
Virginia Waters, the general 11-8 favourite, faces 18 rivals as she attempts to complete a fillies’ Classic double.
She is drawn nine of the 19 runners as she bids to emulate Attraction, who became the first filly to land both races when doing the double last season.
O’Brien also saddles Musidora Stakes fourth Mona Lisa and Queen Titi, who was fifth at Leopardstown on her reappearance.
The Irish 1000 also sees the eagerly-awaited reappearance of Damson who, like Virginia Waters, is owned by Sue Magnier and Michael Tabor.
Damson, winner of the Queen Mary Stakes and the Phoenix Stakes as a two-year-old, has not raced since suffering her only defeat in five starts when a close third to Magical Romance in the Cheveley Park Stakes last September.
She missed the Newmarket 1000 Guineas because of a dirty scope but has made a full recovery.
“She’s coming on all the time after her setback. We’ve got to start her off somewhere and she will improve for it,” said trainer David Wachman.
“Obviously the ground would be of some concern. We wouldn’t want much more rain. Her best form is on fast ground.
“Virginia Waters won very well on the day at Newmarket and is the one to beat.”
Wachman also runs Luas Line, and added: “She has working well but she too would prefer fast ground.”
Saoire finished sixth behind Virginia Waters at Newmarket and trainer Frances Crowley is not sure that her runner can turn the tables.
The filly will also have to cope with an unfavourable stall position, having been drawn 19.
“She’s good and healthy and her preparation has gone well and we’re looking forward to a good run,” said Crowley.
“The draw is not ideal, especially for a filly who’s not got much early speed, but there’s not much we can do about it.
“It’s going to be hard to turn the tables with Virginia Waters, as she won well at Newmarket, but there’s definitely improvement in her and we’re hoping to get closer.”
As well as Maids Causeway, the other British raiders are Mick Channon’s Joint Aspiration, Ralph Beckett’s Penkenna Princess, James Given’s Sheboygan and Titian Time, trained by John Gosden.
Titian Time will be having her first race since running subsequent French 1000 Guineas winner Divine Proportions to two lengths in the Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp last October.
Said Gosden: “She’s in good form. She’s taken some time to come to her herself but she’s working very well.
“They’re aren’t many opportunities for three-year-old fillies at this time of year so we might as well have a go at a big one. She’s up to running a nice race.”
Irish 1000 Guineas betting:
Coral: 11-8 Virginia Waters, 9-2 Damson, 11-2 Maids Causeway, 7-1 Saoire, 16-1 Jazz Princess, Titian Time, 20-1 Sky High Flyer, 33-1 Mona Lisa, Penkenna Princess, Utterly Heaven, 40-1 bar.
Ladbrokes: 6-4 Virginia Waters, 9-2 Maids Causeway, 5-1 Damson, 7-1 Saoire, 14-1 Jazz Princess, 16-1 Titian Time, 20-1 Utterley Heaven, 25-1 Sky High Flyer, 33-1 Mona Lisa, Penkenna Princess, Slip Dance, 40-1 bar.
Totesport: 6-4 Virginia Waters, 5-1 Maids Causeway, 11-2 Damson, 6-1 Saoire, 12-1 Jazz Princess, Titian Time, 20-1 Sky High Flyer, 25-1 Penkenna Princess, 33-1 Mona Lisa, Utterly Heaven, 40-1 bar.
Paddy Power: 11-8 Virginia Waters, 4-1 Damson, 11-2 Maids Causeway, Saoire, 14-1 Titian Time, Jazz Princess, 16-1 Sky High Flyer, 33-1 Slip Dance, Penkenna Princess, Queen Titi, Joint Aspiration, Utterly Heaven, Mona Lisa, 50-1 bar.