Talented New Zealand-based mare Irish Fling will make her Australian racing debut in the 2014 The Galaxy at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday and trainer Guy Lowry is happy with her condition ahead of the Group 1 event.
Irish Fling made a slow start to her racing career, scoring one win from nine starts as a three-year-old, but made plenty of improvement when she returned to the races during spring last year; winning the Cambridge Stud Burgundy Handicap (1000m), the Annie Higgins Handicap (1200m) and the Listed Pegasus Stakes (1000m).
The Darci Brahma made her Group 1 debut in the Telegraph Handicap (1200m) at Trentham on January 18 and scored an impressive win over a strong field; convicting Lowry that she was good enough to warrant a trip to Australia for The Galaxy.
Lowry has been thrilled with the improvement that Irish Fling has shown as an older horse, but admits that she will need to be at her very best against a strong field in The Galaxy this weekend.
“She was mare that was always going to take a bit of time and we had problems with her legs as a three-year-old that gave us grief,” Lowry told Racing Ahead this morning.
“Hence she had the nine starts for the one win and she was beaten in some pretty rough joints in New Zealand before we spelled her and she really has done well this prep.
“It is hard enough to come over here for any sprint races in Australia; we can compete in the staying races, but the sprinting is very difficult.
“We are under no illusions and we tried for The Galaxy to get the least amount of weight as possible.”
Irish Fling had her final race start in New Zealand in the Group 3 Darley Plate (1200m) at Ellerslie on March 1 and Lowry believes that she took plenty of benefit out of the race.
The five-year-old arrived in Australia earlier this week and Lowry said that she had settled in quickly at the stables of Tony McEvoy in Hawkesbury.
“That was the first time Sydney way of going and she probably didn’t get all the favors,” Lowry said of Irish Fling’s run in The Darley Plate.
“She had four or five weeks in between runs and she arrived over here on Monday and she has thrived since she has been here and she is in very good shape.”
Irish Fling is currently an outside in 2014 The Galaxy betting markets, at odds of $31, with Rain Affair ($6) still a narrow favourite from Villa Verde ($6.50) and Kencella ($7).