Richard Hughes may have suffered disappointment in the feature race of the day at the Curragh, but Cay Verde provided some consolation as he booked his Royal Ascot ticket.
Trumpet Major finished stone last in the Abu Dhabi Irish 2,00 Guineas but Cay Verde dominated the Listed Emirates Equestrian EBF Marble Hill Stakes.
Mick Channon’s runner was smartly away for Hughes and disputed the early lead with Liberating before that rival dropped away when the race got serious over two furlongs out.
Favourite Infanta Branca tried to challenge down the outside but Cay Verde more than had her measure, as well as that of Dylanbaru.
Cay Verde had three-quarters of a length in hand at the line with Dylanbaru scooping second ahead of the market leader.
“He’s a fabulous little horse. I always thought I was doing a bit much in front but the longer I sat on him, the better he got and he took two lengths out of the field very quick,” said Hughes.
“He had a little look at the end, which was fair enough, but I just said to Mick ’he’s got that little dash and I’d use it to full effect’.”
Channon is now planning to head to Royal Ascot with Cay Verde.
He said: “He’s been a smashing little horse. He isn’t very big but he’s got a lot of quality and when he won at Ascot I thought ’wow, gee’ you know. He improved so much and he looks as if he’s done it again.
“He (Richard Hughes) said he’s got so much ability, so much speed.
“It’ll be interesting to see what he does. He’ll probably go to the Norfolk Stakes, I wouldn’t hesitate now (regarding taking him to Royal Ascot).
“He’ll also get an entry in the Windsor Castle as well, they’re his choices.”
Tiddliwinks (8-1) followed up his recent Group Two success at York with victory in the Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes.
Kevin Ryan’s runner landed the Duke of York Stakes last time and came with his customary late run to claim Group Three honours.
Jimmy Styles set the early gallop but Pat Smullen was happy to employ waiting tactics on the 8-1 winner, powering through inside the distance to score a half-length verdict at the line.
Jimmy Styles held on to second with The Reaper back in third and last year’s winner, Hitchens, fourth.
Emulous confirmed superiority over her rivals in the Group Three TRI Equestrian Stakes.
Dermot Weld’s mare was giving away at least 2lb to the rest of the nine-strong field after winning the Group One Matron Stakes last term.
Smullen settled the 4-5 favourite in fifth before making his move a furlong out.
The response was almost immediate and Emulous picked up with the minimum of fuss to record a one-and-three-quarter-length verdict in style.
One Spirit, a 33-1 outsider, ran an excellent race to be second with Alanza finishing late and fast for third.
Smullen said: “She’s very good mare. She’s got a lot of ability and travelled very well there.
“She’s a very talented filly, she just kept improving and progressing last year and hopefully she will do the same thing this year.
“It was not a do or die win today so to win like that is very impressive.
“It’s up to Khalid Abdullah and the boss where she goes next but I would like to think everything is open to her.”
Weld confirmed Royal Ascot is likely to be the plan with Emulous now.
“I’m delighted with Emulous, she’s a proper Group One filly,” he said.
“When she won the Matron last September she beat a very good field. She usually takes a run so I was just a little bit concerned she might need the run.
“She was a number of kilos up but she’s done well from four to five and all being well we’ll look seriously at the Windsor Forest at Royal Ascot.
“I’ll speak with (Abdullah’s racing manager) Lord Grimthorpe and the Windsor Forest will be the plan.
“She was a very immature filly initially – we only ran her once as a two-year-old and she won and then she won a couple of Group races for us as a three-year-old.
“She won a Group One as a four-year-old and it’s lovely to see her, she’s a joy to train.”
Nandiga swooped late to register a 25-1 shock in the opening Saadiyat European Breeders Fund Fillies Maiden at the Curragh.
Aidan O’Brien’s Delight looked to have stolen the six-furlong heat but Nandiga, who had to contend with the widest draw of all in stall one, flew down the middle of the track to emerge a neck victor.
Trainer Patrick Prendergast said: “I’m pleased with that. I have ten two-year-olds and with two winners at home we have a good line.
“She was going just as well (as Katchy Lady and Canary Row) and she could be one for Royal Ascot.
“Chris (Hayes) said the ground was fast, it would be as quick as she wants it.”
Jim Bolger’s Parish Hall had to miss out on the 2,000 Guineas after suffering a setback in the morning but Glor Na Mara (9-1) and Aquilonius (16-1) will have cheered the trainer slightly.
Glor Na Mara took the Emirates Equestrian Federation Handicap while Aquilonius emerged victorious in the I.T.B.A. Supporting Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Handicap.