MICK Kinane believes Sea The Stars is a stronger horse now than he has been all season as he defends his unbeaten record in the Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown today.
The son of Cape Cross has carried all before him so far this season, winning the 2000 Guineas, the Derby at Epsom, the Eclipse and most recently the International at York.
“He bounced out of York in great form and he’s actually put on weight since, which is always a good sign,” said Kinane.
“He’s certainly heavier on the scales now than he was before York so he’s getting stronger and is maturing all the time.
“Obviously we want to run him so we’re leaving it as late as we can before making a decision to give it every chance.
“I think the word good will have to be in the equation, but at least if it stays dry there is a good possibility as Leopardstown is a track that drains well.
“We had a dry night and have had a dry day, so we have to hope the track continues to dry and the showers stay away.”
Tom Burke, general manager at the Dublin track, confirmed the track had dried out a little and the worst of the rain had passed.
“We have had a slight improvement through the day. We did have two light showers in the early afternoon, but they were quite insignificant and we did have a good morning – sunny and very breezy,” he said.
“The shower activity is beginning to lessen off overall at the moment.”
Sea The Stars’ two main rivals are the Ballydoyle duo Fame And Glory and Mastercraftsman, who have filled the runner-up spot in the Derby and International respectively.
Kinane respects both opponents and feels there is not much to choose between them.
“I suppose there wouldn’t be an awful lot between Fame And Glory and Mastercraftsman but maybe over this trip, Mastercraftsman may just have the edge - we’ll have to see,” Kinane added.
Aidan O’Brien has the utmost respect for Sea The Stars but is confident both of his two main contenders are capable of giving John Oxx’s charge a fright.
“We never thought that a mile and a quarter would be a problem for Fame And Glory. Obviously he won his two Derby trials over that trip at Leopardstown, so we don’t think that will bother him,” said O’Brien.
“He’s a horse with plenty of speed – he’s a great traveller and is tactically quick early – so we’re looking forward to the race.
“Anybody that has seen Sea The Stars this season knows how good he is, though.
“He looks a top horse on fast ground and we’d love to be going to Leopardstown on nice ground – that would be a level playing field for all horses.
“Mastercraftsman had a break after Ascot and he was a little bit on the heavy side at York, but he was ready to run.
“He gets a mile and a quarter but whether he is as good over it will be interesting to see.”
Irish Champion Stakes: Cashmans bet - 5/6 Sea The Stars, 6/4 Fame And Glory, 7 Mastercraftsman, 16 Casual Conquest, 50 Lord Admiral, Grand Ducal, 150 Loch Long, 250 Rockhampton, Set Sail
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