Caponata to strike for Weld and Smullen at Leopardstown in Coolmore Matron Stakes
Free Eagle can embellish reputation
Caponata, who finished second in the Royal Whip Stakes at the Curragh last month (above), could still provide the Group One centrepiece to a memorable Leopardstown for Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen in the Coolmore Matron Stakes. Photograph: Inpho
Princess Highway may be an outsider in the feature but Caponata could still provide the Group One centrepiece to a memorable Leopardstown for Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen in the Coolmore Matron Stakes.
The eagerly-awaited second appearance of next year’s Derby favourite Free Eagle, in a Group Three with a field that could emerge as significantly better than that grade, is a highlight anyway but there are sound reasons for believing Caponata can get the job done in the highest grade of all. Of the dozen lining up, only La Collina is a Group One winner, and that was a couple of years ago, something that reflects the openness of a race into which the apparent Group Three filly Fiesolana was supplemented during the week at a cost of €20,000.
The filly with probably the best form is the French raider Kenhope, runner-up in the Coronation, and placed behind Elusive Kate at Deauville last time. She is ridden by the 46-year-old ex-French champion jockey Thierry Jarnet, a Group One winner in Britain, Germany, Italy, France and Hong Kong, and who won this year’s French Oaks on Treve. His inexperience around Leopardstown could put some off.
Most important for Caponata though are the predictions of decent ground. The Weld filly has a definite preference for getting her toe in and doesn’t have much to make up from the Curragh when both chased home Dank. Chigun is a big player too but in an open heat, Caponata can make her first top-flight start a winning one.
Free Eagle created such an impression on his course and distance debut last month that he is already as low as 5-1 for the 2014 Derby. But if Weld figured on an easier task by going for a five-runner Group Three next he looks to have figured wrong as Free Eagle is faced with a Group Three winner in Exogenesis and in the regally-bred Australia. If Free Eagle can treat this lot with the same disdain as the last day suspicions will grow even further he might be a rare talent.
With Caponata going for the Matron Weld relies on Tandem in the 10-furlong Group Three but it is Notable Graduate in the last that could seal a red-letter day for Rosewell.