Recharge in charge in Guineas trial

RECHARGE foiled Intense Focus with a game win over the Dewhurst victor in the Leopardstown 2000 Guineas Trial yesterday.

The Kevin Prendergast trained colt wore down Jim Bolger’s runner in the final 100 yards after Born To Be King and Liebermann had set a steady pace.

Recharge (9-4) had to be switched to the outside by Chris Hayes to make his run and went on to score by a length from the evens favourite.

William Hill pushed Intense Focus out to 25-1 from 20s for the Stan James 2000 Guineas at Newmarket while the winner was introduced into the betting for the Irish 2000 Guineas at 12-1 by the same firm.

“After getting into trouble the jockey had to stop him and recharge so he did it well,” said Prendergast.

“I thought the ground would be a shade quick for him, so I’m delighted he handled it.

“He was only beaten three parts of a length by one of the leading Derby fancies (Sea The Stars), so if he was that good, he would have to have a squeak here.

“I doubt if he’ll run again before the Irish 2000 Guineas and he has an entry for the Irish Derby.

“He should not have trouble getting a mile and a quarter.”

Despite the defeat, Bolger was more than satisfied with his horse.

“I’m very happy with Intense Focus. He’ll come on for the run and I think the winner is very smart,” he said.

Bolger and jockey Kevin Manning wasted no time in bouncing back and captured the Leopardstown 1000 Guineas Trial with Maoineach (7-2).

The filly had looked an exciting prospect when making a winning debut in a Group Three at the Curragh in August only to finish last in the Prix Marcel Boussac on her only other start.

However, she showed her class with a smooth victory over Heart Shaped, who was runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Stan James were impressed, cutting Maoineach to 20-1 from 40s for the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket while William Hill went 14-1 from 25-1. Victor Chandler cut the runner-up to 20s from 33s.

However, the winner is by no means a certain starter at Newmarket.

“Newmarket would be on our minds but we’ve got Cuis Ghaire for that and she would be our number one. If for any reason she didn’t run there this one might,” said Bolger.

“Cuis Ghaire won’t have a run before the Guineas. She’s in good shape and she’s very easy to get ready.”

He also explained why the American-bred filly made her debut in Group company.

“She wasn’t qualified for the EBF (as she came from America) which meant there wasn’t a maiden for her and she was ready to run which is why she made her debut in a Group Three last year,” the Coolcullen trainer went on.

“In France the top half inch of turf was moving and it was very firm underneath and she didn’t like the moving ground which I think was the reason she disappointed.

“But she can handle good or good to firm as it was today – she has plenty of options.

“I expected that performance, she’s a very smart filly and I was hoping she’d win.”

Bolger and Manning had initiated a double when Three Rocks took the Leopardstown Aertel Page 277 Handicap by a length and three-quarters from dead-heaters Empirical Power and Mourinho.

“Three Rocks is a really good horse and he’s an improver as well,” said Bolger.

Roses For The Lady (10-1) just held the strong-finishing Jakarta Jazz in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden.

John Oxx’s charge looked set for a clear-cut success when Mick Kinane kicked on but the runner-up was wearing her down hand over fist in the closing stages and failed narrowly.

“She is a nice filly. I thought she would improve from two to three, and for a trip. She will need to keep improving but we will give her a chance in Listed company,” said Oxx.

“She has an Oaks entry but she has to progress.”

Aidan O’Brien’s Roman Empress, the 2-1 favourite, was a big disappointment finishing eighth.

However O'Brien’s Rockhampton was cut to 12/1 (from 25) by Boylesports for the Vodafone Derby after getting O’Brien and Johnny Murtagh off the mark for the new season in the finale, the ten-furlong Foxrock Maiden.

Murtagh oozed confidence on the Galileo colt before delivering his challenge. The Ballydoyle colt ran on well to beat debutant Pirate Ship by a length and a half, prompting Cashmans to introduce him to their Derby betting at 25/1.

Aidan O’Brien said: “He did it nicely and, hopefully there’s plenty more to come from him. Johnny took his time and taught him plenty. We’ll have to wait and see where he fits in, but he’ll run in one of the Derby trials.”

In-form trainer John ‘Shark’ Hanlon was in Downpatrick and missed seeing the versatile mare Shaimaa, in the famous blue and white Durkan colours, prove an easy winner of the ten-furlong Paddocks Handicap.

The six-year-old was the second leg of a double for apprentice Martin Harley, who tracked the leaders and was clearly travelling best turning for home before seizing the initiative at the furlong-pole and stretching clear to score emphatically, by three lengths, from Qeethaara.

Shaimaa had run well on her recent return to action, over hurdles, at Cork and, on this evidence, should pay her way during the summer months when she’s expected to ‘mix it’, over hurdles and on the level.

A similar summer programme is planned by Tom McCourt for Giant Slalom which initiated Harley’s double in the seven-furlong Leopardstown Evening Meetings Handicap.

Often a free-runner, Giant Slalom lost ground at the start and came from well off the pace to lead collar front-running top-weight Astonish inside the final furlong before beating the fast-finishing Metropolis by a length and a half.

McCourt commented: “He was running off 81 when we got him and he’s dropped down the ratings a nice bit. His bloods were a bit low early in the week, but he was working well enough to take his chance. It has worked out well.”

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