Maarek defends Naas crown
Maarek is reported to be in good shape as he bids to land back-to-back victories in the Woodlands Stakes at Naas on Monday.
The classy sprinter took this Listed prize on his seasonal reappearance 12 months ago on the way to Group One glory in the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp in October.
The seven-year-old was well beaten on his first run of 2014 at Cork three weeks ago, but trainer Evanna McCutcheon is expecting a much better display this time around.
"He should run well. We'll be disappointed if he doesn't," said McCutcheon.
"There's some improvement in him from the last day. That was his first run back and there's a long season ahead."
The County Tipperary handler, who now looks after Maarek, formerly trained by David Nagle and Barry Lalor, is pleased to see rain has fallen at Naas in recent days.
"They've had enough rain there and had more than they expected last night, another four millimetres, so that will suit us," she said.
The Tommy Stack-trained Scream Blue Murder, second to Maarek last April, is again in opposition.
Aidan O'Brien has an interesting runner in the twice-raced three-year-old colt Guerre, while seasoned campaigners in the 10-strong line-up include David Marnane's Nocturnal Affair, Andrew Slattery's An Saighduir, Paul Deegan's Srucahan and Leitir Mor from Jim Bolger's stable.