31 August 2022

O’Meara banking on ‘sharper’ Maria Branwell at Salisbury

31 August 2022

Maria Branwell tries six furlongs for just the second time in a competitive renewal of the Ire-Incentive, It Pays To Buy Irish Dick Poole Fillies’ Stakes at Salisbury on Thursday.

David O’Meara’s youngster followed up a debut win at Thirsk with an impressive display up against the colts to land the National Stakes at Sandown earlier in the season, but has had to settle for a minor role since.

Third at Royal Ascot in the Queen Mary Stakes behind Dramatised, she was a beaten favourite when sent off at 9-4 for the valuable Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury, before bouncing back to something much more encouraging on a first attempt at six furlongs in the Lowther Stakes.

She was beaten just over three lengths when sixth behind Swingalong on the Knavesmire and having travelled without her usual zest, is now tried in cheekpieces for this slight drop back in grade.

Maria Branwell (Blue and white, centre) finished third in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot (Adam Davy/PA) (PA Wire)

“She’s in good form,” said O’Meara. “I’ve stuck a pair of cheekpieces on her as she may have got a little bit lazy. She didn’t travel that great at York, but still ran fine. Hopefully they will sharpen her up a bit and I think she will be fine over the trip.”

Jessica Harrington holds Funny Money Honey in high regard and following an encouraging stable debut against the colts at the Curragh, makes an enterprising raiding trip to the picturesque Wiltshire track.

“I’ve been delighted with her, she ran really well at the Curragh against the boys,” said Harrington.

“She’s a quick filly, I hope she gets the six furlongs and she loves quick ground. You never know, maybe she’s as good as we think, we’ll wait and see.”

Richard Hannon (left) has a fine record in Salisbury’s Dick Poole Stakes (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)

Richard Hannon has won this six-furlong contest three times in the last five years and is double handed in his quest for further success. Ryan Moore partners the hat-trick seeking Immortal Beauty, while Frankie Dettori catches the eye aboard the Amo Racing-owned Miami Girl.

Ivory Madonna drops back in trip in first-time cheekpieces having finished fourth in the Sweet Solera over seven furlongs last time out, while Tagline also drops back in distance following a disastrous outing at Sandown.

However, connections feel a line can be drawn through that performance and believe she could bounce back here.

“She was in good form up until her Sandown run and had done well,” said trainer Rod Millman.

She's well drawn, she's working well and we're hoping for a good run from her

“But unfortunately for some reason, we don’t know why, she tried to hang going into the bend. She was anticipating the bend and hung into the bend and Jamie (Spencer) has tried to straighten her up slightly. She ended up getting into a bit of a temper and hung even worse and Jamie was unable to ride her.

“Nothing was found to be wrong with her when we got her home, it was just one of those things. She’s fine over six furlongs, she’s perfectly good at the trip and that isn’t a problem. She’s well drawn, she’s working well and we’re hoping for a good run from her.”

Ed Walker’s Poetic Union finished behind subsequent Vintage Stakes winner Marbaan over seven furlongs at this track on debut, before successfully getting off the mark at Newmarket last month, while the Juddmonte-owned Juliet Sierra also caught the eye with a taking victory at Nottingham recently.

Simon and Ed Crisford’s All The Time could not have been any more impressive when getting back on track at Chester earlier this month, with the field completed by So Sleepy (William Muir and Chris Grassick), Song Of Success (Richard Hughes) and Ange De L’Amour (Robyn Brisland).

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