Maarek to win the battle of the Group One heavyweights in Renaissance Stakes

Jockey Joseph O’Brien can continue a successful week with The Great War

Mareek (right) lands the Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes at York in May.

Mareek (right) lands the Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes at York in May.

Sat, Aug 23, 2014, 01:00

There isn’t a Group One race at the Curragh this weekend but there’s no shortage of proven Group One winners including the Gold Cup hero Leading Light who returns to action at HQ tomorrow while star sprinters Gordon Lord Byron and Maarek represent the other end of the distance spectrum today.

Triple Group One winner Gordon Lord Byron will have Joseph O’Brien on his back for the first time when conceding weight all-round in the Group Three Renaissance Stakes. Tom Hogan is targeting a title-defence for his stable star in next month’s Haydock Sprint Cup.

“He came back with a back injury after Ascot so we’ve given him a bit of time. It’s all about getting a run into him before Haydock,” Hogan reported yesterday. “We did a similar thing last year and won a Group Three. Hopefully he’ll run well but you’d expect him to improve off it.”

Abbaye winner

Haydock is also in the back of Evanna McCutcheon’s mind for the Abbaye winner Maarek who doesn’t look like getting his preferred soft ground today but should strip fitter for his run behind Scream Blue Murder earlier this month.

Joseph O’Brien can continue a successful week on home ground today with The Great War switching from York’s Gimcrack to the Listed Curragh Stakes and the sole colt in the race could prove hard to cope with for the fillies.

The champion jockey also has prime juvenile contenders in Together Forever and General Marshall who ran into a high-class opponent in Toscanelli at Dundalk last weekend.

O’Brien teams up tomorrow with Gleneagles who can emphasise his 2015 Classic credentials in the Group Two Futurity but the proven top-flight performers, Leading Light and Kingsbarns, will also be on the rider’s agenda.

Kingsbarns returns after a near five-month absence in a Royal Whip that also contains the progressive filly Edelmira who might just ideally need softer conditions. The 2011 Dewhurst winner, Parish Hall, faces a task on ratings but that didn’t stop him winning the Meld over course and distance last time.

On the line

With just three weeks to ‘Champions Weekend’, Leading Light puts his Irish Leger credentials on the line.

A peak form Leading Light would be very hard to beat but Fame And Glory got beaten in this race after winning the Gold Cup in 2011– at a 1/3 SP – and Streetcar To Stars gets a lot of weight, as well as a step up in trip that should suit him.

Tommorrow’s other Group Two is the Debutante Stakes which has a notably illustrious roll-of-honour and the step up to seven furlongs may also work here for Beach Belle. Chris Hayes is back on board the filly who ran fourth in the Phoenix to Dick Whittington.

Killarney’s autumn festival winds up today with a €31,000 handicap chase that can see the Galway Plate third Balnaslow return to winning form for the Willie Mullins team.

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