Curragh-based Japanese trainer Takashi Kodama described the outcome as “unbelievable” after saddling 25/1 shot Elusive Time to win the €100,000 Tote Irish Cambridgeshire at the Curragh yesterday.
Ridden by apprentice Ross Coakley and drawn 27 of the 27 runners, the tough nine-year-old was produced with a well-timed challenge along the stands-side rail to get the better of Surrounding by two lengths with British challenger Sinfonietta third and favourite So You Thought fourth.
“I am surprised and so is the jockey,” admitted Kodama.
“I was hoping he would run well, but not expecting to win. I was going to retire him at the end of the season, but we might think again now.
“I only have six horses in training and it is great to have a winner at the Curragh, particularly in such a big race.
“He will probably run in the seven-furlong premier handicap (the Sovereign Path) at Leopardstown on Champions’ Weekend. He was eighth in the race two years ago and, after today, he should get into the race.”
Runner-up twice at Group 1 level before disappointing in America last time, Rain Goddess provided Aidan O’Brien with the highlight of a treble when landing the Group 3 Snow Fairy Stakes at the expense of British raiders Intimation and Dawn Of Hope.
The uneasy 11/4 joint-favourite, the second leg of a double for Ryan Moore, had to work hard to master front-running stable-companion Key To My Heart before holding the fast-finishing Intimation by a half-length.
“It’s great to get her back,” said O’Brien. “She’s a very well-bred filly, with placed Group 1 form, so it was important for her to win a Group 3. The pressure is off after this, so we can travel with her. The Blandford (at the Curragh on September 10) looks the perfect race for her now.
“She might go for the race in America then (the Breeders Cup Fillies & Mares). I’d say nine or 10 furlongs is her trip.”
O’Brien’s Camelot colt Christopher Robin was sent off at 8/11 for the opening two-year-old maiden but flopped behind impressive stable-companion Saxon Warrior, who quickened up in great style to win for Donnacha O’Brien in the style of a potentially high-class colt.
The son of Deep Impact and Maybe came from mid-division and swept past his rivals quickly to triumph by three and a quarter-lengths from Meaghers Flag.
Aidan O’Brien said: “He looks a very smart colt and it’s always great to find them.
“Donnacha was very impressed — he said when he pulled him out, he just took off with him. He’s a big, powerful horse and will come on plenty from today. He could o for the Beresford (in Naas on September 24).”
Having the seventh run of his career and dropping from Group 1 company, US Navy Flag made all to land the Group 3 Plusvital Round Tower Stakes in convincing style, stretching clear for Ryan Moore to slam Landshark by six lengths.
Aidan O’Brien said: “He’s a fast horse and keeps going. We were going to go to the Morny or the Gimcrack, but waited for the nice ground here. He’s a very good mover and appreciates good ground. I’d imagine he’ll go for (Group 1) Middle Park or something like that.”
Runner-up on her debut here last week, the Willie McCreery-trained Liquid Amber, in the familiar colours of the Niarchos Family, readily turned over Ballydoyle hotpot Ballet Shoes in the Group 3 Flame Of Tara 2-Y-0 Fillies Stakes.
The Kitten’s Joy filly tracked the 2/7 favourite throughout and, when Ryan Moore started sending out distress signals with almost a furlong and a half to race, Billy Lee eased the winner alongside and, soon in front, she forged clear to win by five lengths.
“I suppose you look a genius when it works out,” quipped McCreery afterwards. “She bounced out of her race here last week, they re-opened the race and I thought the race would cut up. I was hoping to get some black type for her — she’s a very well-bred filly.
“I mightn’t run her again this year, but I’ll stick her in the Guineas and we’ll see what happens. She’s a big, scopey filly and I loved the way she stayed it out.”
In the supporting handicap action, the old adage about the top-weight in a nursery proved spot-on as Warm The Voice, ridden for Brendan Duke by Kevin Manning, landed the finale by a half-length from Medal Of Honour.
Duke explained: “He’s just such a good colt, trouble-free and genuine as you like. And you haven’t seen the best of him yet. There are a couple of options open to him, but Plan A is the Beresford Stakes in Naas.”
St Brelades Bay, appreciating the good ground, captured the six-furlong Dublin Coach Handicap for Jessica Harrington and Colm O’Donoghue while the Tony Martin-trained Our Raphael, well ridden by Maxine O’Sullivan, proved best in the Tipperary Crystal ‘Rose’ Ladies Invitational Handicap.
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