On the day after the Irish Derby there was of course a touch of After The Lord Mayors Ball at The Curragh on Sunday.
Ireland continues to bask in the freakish sub tropical sweltering conditions, and some of the form lines from Headquarters last weekend should carry a Government Heath Warning as even some horses who normally thrive on fast ground simply downed tools this time.
The bookies had a real Beano in the opener on Sunday when Klute won snugly at 20/1 for Jessica Harrington and Colm O’Donoghue.
“We’ve always liked him, he liked being in front and Colm said he just let him gallop along. He’s in the National Stakes but we’ll see.”
“He stayed the seven furlongs well, and we could drop him back to six if we need to.”
He does hold an entry for the Phoenix Stakes over six furlongs, but, promising and all that he is, a leap in class and a drop in distance would be a big ask.
Red Avenger 11/1 and Kailee 14/1 – who met all sorts of traffic problems – fought out a tight finish in the seven furlongs handicap. Both had attracted each way support.
Red Avenger held on by a short head to give Dublin trainer Damien English his first Curragh winner. A prolonged Stewards Enquiry followed – though the winner didn’t seem to have done much wrong – but in any event the placings remained unaltered.
Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore took the Grangecon Stakes with 6/4 jolly So Perfect who left it late enough when quickening to beat Skitter Scatter by half a length.
The Cherry Hinton was mentioned as a likely next target for a filly who Moore thinks still has plenty of improvement in her.
The old firm of O’Brien and Moore struck again in the next, another Group 3, with Yucatan, who seemed to love the really fast ground.
Cheekpieces didn’t work at Royal Ascot but blinkers did the job here for the 2/1 market leader, and “the blinds” will be persevered with and he’ll be kept at this kind of level.
A strong UK challenge for the Irish Derby the day before had melted like a runny ice cream cone but the visitors struck back in style on Sunday when Urban Fox was a surprise but thoroughly deserving winner of the Pretty Polly Stakes.
Clipped from 12/1 to “nines” Danny Tudhope kicked her on two furlongs out and she fairly slammed Oaks winner and 4/6 odds on jolly Forever Together.
“We were hoping to be placed” said Maureen Haggas, wife of trainer William, afterwards “and we weren’t sure about getting the trip but she stayed it very well, we’re delighted with that.”
“This is nice old race, and to beat the Oaks winner in a Group One at The Curragh is a bit special.”
Gamble of the race was the seemingly Ballydoyle third choice Athena who was 33’s in the morning and was hammered in to 7/1.
In last place for most of the way under Donnacha O’Brien she picked up a bit on the stands side coming home but had to settle for a staying on third.
In truth nothing landed a blow on the winner Urban Fox who must be noted if she goes for the Nassau Stakes. The defeat of Forever Together meanwhile really throws the Irish Oaks in a few weeks time wide open.
Meanwhile Jessica Harrington announced that Alpha Centaurai will stay competing against fillies only this season – the Falmouth was mentioned as a likely next target – and the good news is this sparkling Royal Ascot winner will almost certainly stay in training next season.
“That’s the plan at the moment anyway” Jessica said “so she can take on the colts and geldings next year if need be, no need to take them on this season” she added.
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