Tom Gibney delighted to have a foal mare at Nasrullah Handicap
Trainer Tom Gibney hopes the colt Atavistic can make the most of borrowed time on the racetrack by picking up the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Nasrullah Handicap at Leopardstown on Thursday.
The gorgeous five-year-old is in the hunt for a hat-trick in the €100,000 showpiece and is taking her Irish Grand National winning trainer and brave owner Kevin Haigney on a wonderful journey in the process.
Atavique, a daughter of Godolphin from Dubawi, is in foal to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner and current resident of Ballylinch Stud Waldgeist, and she soared to become one of the main contenders on Thursday.
After running a respectable run without ever bothering the winner at Bellewstown last April in her first race for new connections, Atavique was second behind Rosscarbery in Sligo before winning two on the rebound at Fairyhouse and Down Royal, the latter coming to the Ulster Oaks.
Atavisque win Ulster Oaks at Down Royal
Since winning the 2012 Irish Grand National with Lion Na Bearnai, Gibney has had some fine success over the jumps, but Atavisque’s chance to trap the Nasrullah Handicap in partnership with jockey Siobhán Rutledge, has connections excited about what would undoubtedly be Coach Meath’s biggest day in a rather select chain on the flat.
Gibney said Tuesday: “We look forward to Atavisque trying their luck in Leopardstown. She came out of Down Royal well and we are happy with her.
“It was always Kevin’s plan to go straight to his breeding and not run too long so I can’t complain. Maybe if he thought it was going to work out so well, he might have held off for a year, but there’s nothing we can do about it now. She did really well for him.
“We didn’t know how good she could be as a racehorse, it’s the simple truth, but we left Sligo very happy, after she raced so close to Rosscarbery. I knew that in coming home that day she had potential, although we probably didn’t know that Paddy Twomey’s filly was more or less a Group 1 filly at this stage!
“She is relishing the ten-stadium trip, but although she has done well on a good pitch and is also in good form in England, I think she likes a bit of an easy one. I would prefer that, but it was lively enough at Fairyhouse to be fair with her. It was however on a different level of Nasrullah. It was mild in Naas and there was also a good cut in Down Royal. She’s unlikely to get that at Leopardstown, but the fact that she played faster is a good thing. I just think she’d be better off with a bit of a cut.
SUMMER SIZZLERS COMPLETELY SOLD!! For @gavinjames this next Thursday, @ImeldaOfficial the 14th of July & @Razorlight July 21! But don’t worry, get your GA tickets for all three nights for the advanced price of just €25 here https://t.co/Tg9aeuW8Ap pic.twitter.com/sSKceHSPhG
— Leopardstown RC (@LeopardstownRC) July 5, 2022
One of the most competitive races on the Irish calendar will not be an easy choice for any of the 13 riders in Thursday’s event, but Gibney is keen that Atavisque can have other opportunities before retiring.
“She has a few other options, but we’ll see how Thursday goes and go from there. She’s full of Waldgeist, so that’s something Kevin is looking forward to, but for now, but it’ll be good to travel to Leopardstown for such a big pot and it would be great to get it.
The Trained by Henry of Bromhead Mosala and Chris Hayes will attempt the daring feat of winning back-to-back race renewals after his impressive win 12 months ago, and from Bromhead, also more used to winning major prizes during the jumping season at Leopardstown, will also saddle Annexationwho is Wayne Lordan’s mount.
Ado McGuinness launches a three-pronged attack on functionality with casanova, salt stall and Star Harbor accustomed to the first handicap at this stage.
Elsewhere on Thursday’s Leopardstown card, Group 3 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Stanerra Stakes drew a dozen declarations with a quarter of the field coming from across the Irish Sea.
Champion jockey Colin Keane has been booked to ride Golden dumpling for Hugo Palmer, while Ben Coen took over on garden paradiseofficially the highest rated rider in the field for James Tate and Ronan Whelan rides the trained Roger Varian Lady Hayes.
The trained Paddy Twomey Rosscarbery is a fascinating inclusion following her recent efforts in the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes where she finished third before being disqualified.
The first race ends at 5.30pm with Gavin James playing live after running on the Bulmers stage, followed by music from a DJ. Tickets are available at www.leopardstown.com and available for purchase at the door.