Art Power returns to the Curragh on Saturday looking to make it a perfect four wins from four trips to Ireland in the Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes.
Tim Easterby’s six-year-old made his Irish debut immediately after winning the inaugural Palace of Holyrood House Handicap at Royal Ascot as a three-year-old, and the journey was rewarded when he was a comfortable winner of the Lacken Stakes at Naas.
Since then he has twice won another Group Three, the Renaissance Stakes at the Curragh, and both times he did it in style again, by five lengths on the first occasion and by three lengths the second. He has started odds on every time, so punters in Ireland certainly have his measure, and on the latter occasion he had one of Saturday’s rivals, Ano Syra, well held in fourth.
The target at the Curragh this weekend is an even bigger prize and Easterby is looking forward to the Group Two challenge.
“He’s a super horse and he didn’t run too bad at York last week on his reappearance, where he was just a bit fresh and free on his first run since he was gelded (eighth in Duke of York Stakes).
“I don’t know if gelding will benefit him or not, but we were struggling to find him a place at stud and so we decided to cut him and race him on, as he’s a grand horse with great limbs on him, and he always runs well in the big sprints.
“I’d imagine it will be decent ground there, but he’s fine on fast ground too and he’s very well.
“He’s run some super races in Group Ones and he’s been a bit unlucky, as he’s been drawn badly or raced on the wrong side, or that kind of thing. He always runs well.”
Easterby has a tremendous record in Ireland, and added: “We’ve been very lucky over there, but we don’t send them unless they have a good chance. The first winner there was Bally Pride in a sales race, and I remember that one very well as I owned a share in him. I had a bad head the next day!
“We won a few years later with Fayr Jag, the same afternoon that Bollin Eric ran in the Irish St Leger and wasn’t seen to best advantage, and we’ve also won there with Golden Nun and Mattmu before Art Power.”
Also travelling to Ireland is Garrus, another who maintains his form and enthusiasm particularly well, as demonstrated by last month’s Group Three win from Commanche Falls and Creative Force in Newmarket’s Abernant Stakes.
Charlie Hills would love to add a first Group Two win to the seven-year-old’s CV, and this looks an ideal opportunity. He said: “We were very pleased with his win in the Abernant and he seems in good form still, so he goes there with a live chance.
“I think he comes out top on the official ratings, and he quite likes the quicker ground. The stiffish track should help too, and we’ve booked Ryan Moore, who rode him at Newmarket, so it’s all very positive.”