Eagle soars to impressive debut success

Great White Eagle looked a future star when making a successful debut in the Michael T O Maille 2-Y-0 Race in Naas yesterday.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained Elusive Quality colt, which cost 760,000 Guineas at the Newmarket Breeze-up Sale in April (a European record), was strongly supported in the market against favourite Gold Peregrine and triumphed in impressive style.

Always travelling strongly under Joseph O’Brien, Great White Eagle quickened into the lead with more than furlong to race and stretched clear to beat the favourite (outpaced at a crucial stage and staying on late) by two and three-quarter lengths.

“You’d have to be delighted with a performance like that,” said Aidan O’Brien. “He came from the Breeze-Ups and we gave him a break before starting with him. He’s a lovely colt and Joseph says he has plenty of speed.”

O’Brien indicated that Great White Eagle will be kept to six furlongs — at least in the short term — with the Group 3 Round Tower Stakes at the Curragh on September 1 a possible target. The Ballydoyle received quotes of 16/1 from both Paddy Power and Stan James for the 2014 Qipco 2,000 Guineas in Newmarket.

No joy for the other Ballydoyle juvenile, hot-pot Juniper Tree in the later seven-furlong maiden. The Galileo colt, first foal of multiple Group 1 winner Alexander Goldrun and sent off 4/11 favourite, could finish only fourth behind the Johnny Murtagh-trained and ridden newcomer Altruistic.

The winner, in the colours of Andrew Tinkler, was prominent throughout and stayed on strongly up the hill to beat promising debutantes Sparkle Factor and Supposing in emphatic style.

A delighted Murtagh explained: “He’s a little bit nervous and cold-backed but he has shown us plenty. He’s as typical Galileo — he got out and, once I got him rolling, I knew he had a chance. In fairness, he was very professional. When I gave him a smack, he picked up well and ran to the line. He’ll improve plenty from this and has the makings of a very nice colt.”

The 85-rated, eight-race maiden Wannabe Better, trained by Tommy Stack and ridden by Wayne Lordan, belatedly got off the mark in the finale, the one-mile fillies maiden and she did so in style, forging clear in the final furlong to slam La Femme by seven and a half lengths.

“She’s been threatening to do that for a long time and it’s a relief,” stated Stack. “We’ll try to get some black type for her now.”

The Ger Lyons-trained Greek Canyon completed a hat-trick for owner Sean Jones when getting the better of In Salutem by a neck in the Tipper Road Rated Race.

The tough grey provided apprentice Colin Keane with his twelfth win of the season, despite losing his whip early in the final furlong and Lyons admitted: “I love this horse. He’s a lovely, honest horse. He likes top of the ground and, after I walked the course, I told Colin to come wide. I also told him not to beat him up, so I had to laugh when he lost his stick.

“He’ll struggle in handicaps off his current mark so we’ll try to find another of these races. But he owes us nothing for 2013.”

Keane is enjoying a successful season. But he’s ten behind the season’s leading apprentice Connor King, who was on the mark again when partnering the Oasis Dream filly How Splendid, trained by his boss David Wachman, to a gutsy win over Jumbo Steps in the seven-furlong, www.naasracecourse.com Handicap.

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Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.


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