The big sprint race on Irish Champions Weekend is the Group 1 Flying Five Stakes at The Curragh (14:25), and course specialist Soffia has leading claims of a big race victory.
Ed Lynam’s star filly is in the form of her life after hitting a hat-trick en route to this major meeting.
The daughter of Kyllachy has progressed through the grades at a rate of knots this season, winning a Listed affair at Cork on her third start.
Soffia followed-up with a gutsy neck success in the Group 3 Ballyogan Stakes over 6f here in June.
She then completed her three-timer over this course and distance when quickening superbly to slam El Astronaute by 3 1/2 lengths in the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes.
It was a scintillating display from Soffia, who has won all four or her career starts at The Curragh.
This venue clearly plays to her strengths and another plus is the form of her stable heading into Irish Champions Weekend.
At the time of writing, Lynam’s yard is a 40 per cent strike rate with its runners in the last 14 days.
If replicating her Sapphire success, then Soffia has nothing to fear from re-opposing pair Soldier’s Call – who she meets on 3lb better terms – and Caspian Prince.
The sixth horse home, Equilateral, advertised the form earlier this week when winning at Doncaster’s St Leger Festival.
Taking all that into account, Soffia is a superb bet at 3/1 with Betfair in a Flying Five Stakes renewal which is far from the strongest.
Mabs Cross not matching last season’s form
Half of the 12-runner field are British raiders and top of those on adjusted ratings is Mabs Cross, who peaked around this time last year with Group 1 glory over in France.
Trained by Michael Dods, who does well with his sprinters, this five-year-old mare landed the Prix de l’Abbaye on Arc day at Longchamp on her final start of last year.
Mabs Cross swooped to lead close home and touch off Gold Vibe by a head.
It was compensation for connections after the daughter of Dutch Art lost out by a nostril in the 2018 Nunthorpe Stakes at York.
She had also previously ran well when placing third in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Mabs Cross looked as good as ever on her return to action when taking a deep renewal of the Group 3 Palace House at Newmarket.
She was given a perfectly-timed ride under top-weight to beat the aforementioned Equilateral by a neck.
That displayed promised big things for future assignments back in a higher grade, but Mabs Cross hasn’t scored since.
There were excuses next time up in the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock as she lost a shoe but still came third of six to Battaash.
Out of the frame at Ascot and York
The winner has since twice confirmed that form as Mabs Cross missed out on the frame in this year’s King’s Stand.
She was only beaten 2 3/4 lengths by the now retired Royal Ascot sprint double hero Blue Point but never quite able to challenge.
After a mid-season break, the obvious target was to try and go one better in the Nunthorpe.
Mabs Cross again had to settle for fourth, however, as Battaash romped home in course record time on the Knavesmire.
When you consider Mabs Cross was 5lb better off on race terms with Battaash from Haydock at York, it was a disappointing display.
She was beaten almost six lengths behind the winner and finished behind re-opposing pair Soldier’s Call and So Perfect.
While Mabs Cross is 1lb better off with those rivals here, she isn’t matching her form from last season.
That has to be a concern, especially against an improving, younger rival like Soffia that loves the track.
For all her performances at the highest level, Mabs Cross is taken on despite Flying Five Stakes odds of 9/2 with Coral even though this has a less competitive look to other recent assignments.
Invincible Army each-way value in Flying Five Stakes
A case can be made for a few hitting the frame. Soldier’s Call chased Battaash home in the Nunthorpe, but Invincible Army is the best of three quickly turned out from the Haydock Sprint Cup last weekend.
Trained by James Tate, the four-year-old Invincible Spirit colt has won three of his six starts this season including a very taking success in the Group 2 Duke Of York Stakes.
He followed-up on a Listed win at Doncaster on the Knavesmire when beating the same rival.
Invincible Army then ran seventh of 17 to Blue Point in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot, but resumed winning ways when eased in grade at Newcastle.
He made all on the all-weather, keeping on strongly in the final furlong for a ready 2 1/4 lengths victory.
An extended 6f in the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville stretched his stamina, but he was far from disgraced at Haydock when a fading three-length fifth to Hello Youmzain.
Those two recent runs suggest a drop back in trip may be in order for Invincible Army.
He now meets Aidan O’Brien trained fillies Fairyland and So Perfect on 1lb better terms, so should confirm Haydock form with both.
With King George Stakes runner-up Houtzen looking flattered by how close she was allowed to get to Battaash at Glorious Goodwood, Invincible Army is overpriced in relation to her.
Twice the odds are available on him hitting the frame in the Flying Five Stakes at 12/1 with Paddy Power.
That makes Invincible Army a bit of each-way value in this year’s renewal, provided this run doesn’t come too soon.