Paddy Twomey is hoping he has found the right starting point for Foxtrot Liv’s big summer ahead as she returns in the Coolmore Gleneagles Irish EBF Athasi Stakes at the Curragh.
The three-year-old filly was a course-and-distance maiden winner last summer, before going on to twice run hugely promising races in September – runner-up both times at Leopardstown and Naas in Listed and then Group Three company.
She returns at the latter level over the same distance of seven furlongs in a competitive 10-strong field.
Twomey’s only qualm is that the forecast yielding ground may not play to the strengths of a filly whose improvement in five starts last summer came exclusively on quicker surfaces.
“My only concern would be that all her form tells us she likes good ground, or better, good to firm,” said the County Tipperary trainer.
“It’s yielding tomorrow, so that would be the only worry there really.”
However she copes with the slightly slower conditions, Foxtrot Liv faces stern opposition – led, unsurprisingly, by an Aidan O’Brien representative.
Investec Oaks entry Happen, a Leopardstown maiden winner in October, is already Group placed on her return to action in an Irish 1,000 Guineas trial at that course last month.
Other eye-catching runners are Ed Walker’s globe-trotting five-year-old mare Indian Blessing, who must give weight away to her younger rivals, and Mick Channon’s fellow British challenger and Group Three winner Dan’s Dream.
Foxtrot Liv has Irish 1,000 Guineas and Royal Ascot aspirations – and Twomey is optimistic she can stay in the frame for those assignments.
“I’m very happy with her,” he said.
“She’s in good form, ready to start.
“It looks a good starting point, and we know the track suits her.
“We’re hoping she’ll go well, run a nice race, but she’ll improve for whatever she does.”
Also among the opposition is Rionach, for Curragh trainer Michael O’Callaghan – who expects a much better run than first time out this year when she was last of nine in the Group Three Park Express at Naas in March.
He said: “She was Stakes-placed last year and is a rock solid Listed filly, between 90-100.
“At home she’s trained on – she’s been working with (dual recent winner) I Am Superman.
“I think we can put a line through her first run this year, when she hated the sticky ground.
“(Jockey) Leigh Roche minded her after that when he knew it wasn’t her day.
“I do expect her to run a good deal better and at least be competitive.”