Starspangledbanner: will return to action after almost two years offPICTURE: Mark Cranham
Starspangledbanner set to return at the Curragh
FOUR-TIME Group 1 winner Starspangledbanner will make his eagerly anticipated return to action when he faces eight rivals in the Group 3 Patrick P. O'Leary Memorial Phoenix Sprint Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.
A 95 per cent share in the speedy six-year-old was purchased by Coolmore two years ago and he went on to win the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot and Darley July Cup at Newmarket for trainer Aidan O'Brien before retiring to stud.
After one successful season in the breeding shed, Starspangledbanner was put back in training when he began to experience fertility problems and jockey Joseph O'Brien said he expects the sprinter to improve for his first outing in almost two years.
O'Brien said: "He seems okay at home but we haven't done a whole lot with him yet. After being off for so long, you don't really know what they can do until you get them back on track again. It would be good if he can run a nice race and I'm sure he'll come on a lot for it."
Starspangledbanner, who heads the betting at around 2-1 generally, will be joined in the line-up by stablemate After, British raider Definightly and smart filly Fire Lily.
The Keeneland Phoenix Stakes is the feature Group 1 on the stellar Curragh card, which also hosts the Group 2 Royal Whip Stakes and the Group 2 Keeneland Debutante Stakes. There is also racing at Downpatrick, Folkestone and Leicester on Sunday.