The Sunday feature attracted only four runners, following the withdrawal of Aidan O’Brien’s Was (heading straight for the Darley Irish Oaks) and Maybe (Falmouth Stakes in Newmarket) plus Jessica Harrington’s Bible Belt.
The race developed on predictable lines as Pat Smullen dictated the pace on Sapphire, a proven soft ground performer, tracked throughout by the eventual winner, with the other pair never able to deliver a telling bow, although closing in the final furlong.
Riding his first winner at the Curragh, Wiliam Buick, on Izzi Top, cruised alongside the leader with two furlongs to race. The Pivotal filly found an extra gear to lead before staying on well to land the spoils by a length and a quarter, with I’m A Dreamer and Up closing to get within a couple of half-lengths of the leading duo.
A delighted John Gosden said: “It’s my third time to win the Pretty Polly and it feels as if the ‘Pretty Polly’ is coming home, because Pretty Polly was trained in the yard where I train.”
He added: “William said she didn’t like the ground and was idling in the last furlong. Her recent work has been the best I’ve ever seen from her. A mile and a quarter is her trip, but preferably on better ground.”
Gosden pinpointed the Nassau Stakes in Goodwood and the Prix de l’Opera in Longchamp as targets for Izzi Top while confirming that a trip to the Breeders Cup will also be considered.
Out of luck with Sapphire, Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen had triumphed earlier with Famous Name, which recorded his tenth Group 3 win, and his seventeenth career success, when justifying favouritism in the Friarstown Stud International Stakes.
The 4/7 favourite tracked front-running Defining Year before sweeping into the lead with less than two furlongs to race and forging clear to win by almost four lengths. It was the remarkable seven-year-old’s third win in the International in four years.
Weld commented: “Nothing is easy and he just gets out and battles. He loves training and has retained his enthusiasm for racing. Not many horses win ten group races. But this fellow’s enthusiasm and will to win make him a special horse.”
Weld’s ultimate objective with Famous Name is to win a Group 1 prize and he’s planning a return to Munich later this month with the son of Dansili, for the Bayerisches Zuchtrennen, in which he finished second last year.
Another star performance was produced by the Aga Khan-owned, John Oxx-trained Hartani in the At The Races Curragh Cup. Completing a hat-trick, the Shirocco colt relished the testing ground conditions and powered clear inside the final furlong to beat Midnight Soprano by five-and-a-half lengths.
“He’s a good stayer and loves soft ground,” stated Oxx. “Of all the horses he rode this weekend, Johnny said Hartani loved the ground most. The further he went. The more he stretched clear.
“He’s a lovely, good-natured horse and looks like a St. Leger candidate. He’ll run in one of the St. Leger trials and we’ll see what happens.”
Withdrawn when she became extremely upset in the stalls at Royal Ascot last week, the Andy Oliver-trained Sendmylovetorose made amends when making all to floor favourite True Verdict in the Group 3 Grangecon Stud Fillies Stakes.