MARK Johnston is favouring a tilt at the Coolmore Fusaichi Pegasus Matron Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday for his talented filly Rainfall.
After beating off the colts to win the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot, the three-year-old went on to finish third in Newmarket’s Falmouth Stakes and then fifth behind wonder mare Goldikova in the Prix Rothschild.
While she also holds an entry in Saturday’s Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock, a trip across the Irish Sea is currently dominating Johnston’s thoughts, with stable companion Sea Lord lining up in the Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes on the same card.
“The original objective was that she would go to Haydock and I entered her in the Matron just to have a look,” said Johnston.
“I haven’t had a chance to discuss it with the owner yet but at first glance, the Matron looks a better option for her.
“We’ll make a final decision later in the week but she could be joining Sea Lord in Ireland.”
Johnston also reports Sea Lord to be in tip-top condition ahead of his step up to Group One company in the Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes.
The Cape Cross colt is enjoying a fantastic campaign with lucrative handicap wins at the Curragh, Newmarket and Goodwood followed by a narrow success over weekend winner Poet’s Voice in Group Three company at Salisbury.
He was supplemented for Saturday’s feature at a cost of €75,000 but his trainer is under no illusions about the task ahead as the three-year-old faces the prospect of tackling the likes of Rip Van Winkle and Twice Over.
“He’s in good form. We’ve done this a couple of times this year – supplemented horses for big races – and touch wood, he seems very well,” said Johnston.
“It’s a big leap for him and we can’t take it for granted that he is up to Group One level, but it seems the right progression for him at this stage.
“He had a number of targets but we decided on this one.”
It will also be Sea Lord’s first run beyond a mile this weekend but Johnston believes there is enough evidence to suggest the 10 furlongs will not be a problem.
“The breeding on his dam’s side suggests he could be better over a mile and a quarter and Kieren Fallon who rode him last time said he could be better over a mile and a quarter. He’s by Cape Cross and although he was a miler himself, we’ve seen he is capable of producing horses with stamina.”
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