David Marnane’s high-class sprinter Nocturnal Affair makes his first appearance of the turf season in the Abergwaun Stakes at Tipperary tonight.
The six-year-old won the prestigious Portland Handicap at Doncaster and a Listed race at Dundalk last year before a successful winter campaign in Dubai, where he landed a valuable handicap and ran four excellent races in defeat.
He was last seen finishing a little over two lengths behind Ortensia in the Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night in March and Marnane feels today’s race should sharpen him up perfectly for the Nunthorpe Stakes at York on August 24.
“We gave Nocturnal Affair a nice break after a busy winter in Dubai and I’m really delighted with him as I think he’s improved again,” said Marnane.
“He’s in good order at home. Obviously, having his first run back on heavy ground isn’t ideal, but we want to get a run into him and this will be his prep race for the Nunthorpe.
“I’m not expecting him to win as such, I just hope he runs a nice race and it should put him right for York.”
Marnane is double-handed in tonight’s Listed contest as he also saddles the admirable Santo Padre, last seen finishing third at Fairyhouse.
“Santo Padre is a great old horse and he’s in good form. We would have preferred better ground for him as well, but he should run well and I don’t think there’ll be a whole lot between the two of them,” said Marnane.
There are two challengers from Britain — Inxile and Free Zone.
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