Monsieur primed for Tipperary trip
Paul Midgley expects Monsieur Joe to prove tough to beat in the Kilfrush Stud Abergwaun Stakes at Tipperary on Friday.
The eight-year-old has been in the form of his life this season, winning a big pot at York and finishing second to stablemate Desert Law in the Dash at Epsom.
He handled the step up to Listed company when narrowly beaten by Out Do in the City Walls Stakes and was not beaten far in a Group Two at the Curragh last time out.
This will be his third appearance in Ireland in his last four outings and Midgley admits the prize money on offer means it makes sense.
"He likes travelling and I'm amazed more don't go over to be honest," said Midgley.
"Most probably think it's a hassle but it's less travelling for us to get to the Curragh than it takes to get to Goodwood and the prize money is fantastic.
"He's in great form still, he has been all year, and the only one he meets wrong at the weights is Dikta Del Mar.
"If he gives his running, like he has been doing all year, then he's the one to beat. It will be nice to give Joseph (O'Brien) a winner.
"Fingers crossed he runs his race, that's all you can ask of him."
Robert Cowell is sending two over from Newmarket, Iffranesia and Speed Hawk, David Marnane runs Jamesie with Johnny Murtagh represented by the three-year-old Kasbah.
The presence of Thousand Stars in the concluding Toomey's Applegreen Filling Station (Ladies) Handicap ensures that there will not be many leaving Tipperary early, as the great hurdling grey has his first start on the level for over six years.
It is amazing to note the subsequent dual French Champion Hurdle hero actually finished in the rear in a 50 to 80 event at Fairyhouse in June 2009, and it wasn't too long after that when Willie Mullins assumed control of the now 11-year-old.
Mullins' son Patrick recently put Thousand Stars' longevity down to the level of head-man Dick Dowling's care for the French-bred. He also revealed there has never been any drop-off in the stable stalwarts enthusiasm for his home work.
It was the usual up to scratch performance from the 12-times scorer when he finished sixth last time in the Galway Hurdle, under one of his most regular jockeys, Katie Walsh.
The leading lady rider again takes the reins at Tipperary and it will be fascinating to watch how things transpire in this extended mile-and-a-half event. A Flat assessment of 68 is clearly appealing.
Elsewhere, the Dan Dooley Ford Centre Handicap has split to form an eight-race card, with Johnny Levins and Gary Carroll represented in both divides.
Their runner in the 7.45, Hard Times, now makes his third appearance for the Curragh-based outfit and it looks as though he may now be poised to strike.
Hard Times was formerly under the tutelage of Tom McCourt, who is on record as describing the Moss Vale gelding's displays on the gallops at home as exceptional.
He has obviously never brought that to the racecourse, but an ease in the ground now, and this seven-furlong trip, should give him every opportunity to break his maiden on attempt number 18.
Levins and Carroll go into battle half an hour later with Aye Aye Skipper but Jembatt is preferred here.