A sprinkling of Brazilian stardust is set to descend on Naas this weekend as a horse part-owned by Philippe Coutinho prepares for its racecourse debut at Royal Ascot Trials Day.
Olivia Maralda was purchased for 460,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Craven Breeze-Up sale by Amo Racing, powered by leading football agent Kia Joorabchian.
Former Liverpool ace Coutinho, the third most expensive footballer of all time having cost Barcelona £142m in 2018, has teamed up with the organisation and owns half of the two-year-old filly, who has been entered in the Group 3 Coolmore Stud Irish EBF Fillies Sprint Stakes on Sunday (2.45pm).
The two-year-old is under the wing of Michael O’Callaghan at the Curragh and the trainer is pleased with how she has been progressing.
“Olivia Maralda is working well and we’re very happy with her,” he said. “She cost plenty of money but I think she’s a decent filly.
“Philippe Coutinho owns half of her, they’re trying to get the registration sorted in time so his name appears on the racecard.
“We’ll see how she works during the week, but I wouldn’t be concerned about pitching her in at Group Three level on debut. I think she’s going to end up at that level on her second start anyway, so I wouldn’t be worried at all.
“If everything goes to plan, we would be looking at bringing her to Royal Ascot for the Albany.”
The race will take place during half-time at Villa Park, where Coutinho - who has 67 Brazil caps - will be hoping to inspire his Aston Villa side to victory over Crystal Palace in Sunday’s Premier League fixture.
O’Callaghan’s focus will be firmly pointed towards Naas, however, with Twilight Jet also returning to action for the first time since he finished a disappointing 10th on his visit to the Breeders' Cup.
The three-year-old is set for the Group 3 Goffs Lacken Stakes (3.45pm) against 12 potential rivals including Ger Lyons’ unbeaten Beauty Inspire.