AFTER sending out highly creditable runners-up at the Curragh last weekend, Meath trainers Sheila Lavery and Jack Davison are very much looking forward to Royal Ascot in the coming weeks, but their attention will be closer to home today as they both target the valuable Royal County Handicap (4.00) at Navan.
The 14-runner contest is choc full of progressive-looking three-year-olds and it will no surprise if if a handful of them go on to make their way into pattern company later this year. Lavery sends out Global Energy, who like New Energy, runs in the colours of her brother John.
Interestingly, he was declared for the Group 3 Gallinule Stakes last weekend but then taken out.
“Sometimes races like the Gallinule can break up,” Lavery told The Irish Field. “If the ground had come up soft, I’d have let him take his chance. I do think he could be that standard, but it’s a case of taking baby steps with him now.
“I am struggling to find races for him and he’s stepping back to a mile and two furlongs, but Navan is a stiff mile and two. I’m just hoping there’s a bit of ease in the ground, a bit of kindness in it, but other than that he’s in really good form and I’m looking forward to running him.”
Lavery went on to report New Energy has come out of his excellent Irish 2000 Guineas second absolutely fine and it’s a case of all systems go for Ascot now, re-issuing her intent to “live the dream.”
Davison will have a similar mindset as he looks forward to running Mooneista in the King’s Stand Stakes, and he reported his family’s homebred filly to have “grown a hand taller in confidence” after her near miss to Brad The Brief in the Greenlands Stakes.
Today, the Dunboyne trainer relies on another filly in the progressive Sally Golightly for the Navan feature.
“I don’t know where her ceiling is,” he told The Irish Field yesterday. “The handicapper took a pretty strong view on her run the other night and I suppose that’s fair because she won on the bridle. She seems to have come out of it very well.
“You have to strike while the iron is hot with these fillies, they can be bang in form this week and then next thing they’re out of form, so we’ll keep going anyway and hopefully she can uphold her form.”
The sun is set to shine on the Meath track today which may prompt quicker conditions for many of the 14-runner field but Davison says that is unlikely to hinder his filly.
“She’s big, but she’s not a heavy type and she has a nice free action so I would have said good ground is her ideal ground.”
This is one of the lighter quality weekends of the year given it falls just before the Derby Festival at Epsom, but it’s a big day for connections of Dragon Symbol, who disappointed on his stable debut for Roger Varian at York and is dropped down in class for the Listed Betfred Achilles Stakes (1.45) at Haydock today.
“He’s come out of his run at York well and he’s worked nicely, so he’s ready to run again,” Varian said during the week. “We were disappointed at York but we can’t find a reason for it - perhaps he just ran a bit fresh and needed it.
“Hopefully we can get back on track on Saturday. It looks a good opportunity on paper and he should cope with the ground and the drop back to five furlongs.”