Custom Cut winning the 2014 Joel Stakes
PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
By David Carr 7:55AM 23 SEP 2016
DAVID O’MEARA could make a small bit of history in a race celebrating one of the biggest names in the sport on Friday.
The Joel Stakes commemorates legendary owner-breeder Jim Joel, one of the few men to win the Derby and the Grand National, thanks to Royal Palace and Maori Venture respectively.
Originally run in the name of Main Reef, one of his horses, and retitled in his own honour in 1994, it has never had a multiple winner in its 29-year history.
Success for the O’Meara-trained Custom Cut would make him unique as he won the 1m contest in 2014, as well as finishing second last year.
The seven-year-old was runner-up a fortnight ago in the Boomerang Stakes at Leopardstown, which he won in 2015, but O’Meara’s assistant Jason Kelly warned: “This is a strong renewal and it’s drying ground, while he’s often best with a little bit of ease.
“But his run last time was probably as good as he has run and he seems to be in good form.”
Maria looking for a return to form
The trainer also runs Amazing Maria, who won in Group 1 company at Newmarket and Deauville last year but is without a victory this season.
“Amazing Maria is dropping to Group 2 class for just the second time since she won at Royal Ascot last year,” Kelly said.
“A straight track is what she did her winning over last year and the drying ground will suit her, so we hope she can rediscover her form and run a big race.”
Nell Gwyn Stakes winner Nathra, who finished second in the French 1,000 Guineas at Deauville in May, has her first run for 98 days.
Trainer John Gosden said: “She’s had a nice break since Royal Ascot and has been pleasing at home but would appreciate any rain that’s around.
“We were looking at Arc weekend with her originally but have decided to pitch her in against colts for the first time and we know she likes the track.”