Venus bids to keep
rivals at arm's length
Irish Stallion Farms EBF Give Thanks Stakes (Group 3) | 1m4f, 3yo+ fillies | ATR
IRISH OAKS runner-up Venus De Milo will be partnered for the first time by Joseph O'Brien this evening.
The filly has been ridden by Seamie Heffernan on her three starts to date, winning a Fairyhouse maiden and Naas Listed race before her Curragh Classic second.
O'Brien takes over for this €77,500 event, with Heffernan on Aidan O'Brien-trained stablemate Beach Of Falesa in the six-runner field.
The trainer said: "Venus De Milo hasn't done a lot since the Irish Oaks, but she's in good form and we're happy with her.
"We decided to try to win a Group race with her close to home before going further afield. We'll be delighted if Beach Of Falesa can pick up some black type."
Midnight Soprano has risen steadily through the ranks, taking a premier handicap in May last year and going on to bag two Listed events before winning a Group 3 over this course and distance this June.
Trainer Paul Deegan said: "She's in great form after running okay in a Group 2 at Haydock. The ground just came up a bit quick for her there. Hopefully, it'll be slow ground at Cork and she'll give a good account.
"Venus De Milo is obviously the one to beat, but we'll give her a run for her money."
Not since her maiden victory has Midnight Soprano scored by more than three-quarters of a length and this small field will give her usual late run far more chance of success, although she will have company at the rear, with Venus De Milo also a hold-up type.
Bunairgead looks their main danger, having won a Listed race at Roscommon, but the easing of the ground could bring about improvement in Sleeping Beauty, fifth behind Venus De Milo at Naas.
Cork good, yielding in places
Roscommon good, good to firm in places
Catterick soft, good to soft in places
Ffos Las soft
Ripon good, good to soft in places
Today's key pointer
Since the start of 2010 Sir Mark Prescott is 28-39 with last-time-out handicap winners reappearing within seven days. Alwilda goes for him at Ripon (8.10)
Pointer courtesy of Raceform Interactive