Last year’s Leger winner Royal Diamond dictated the pace under his trainer Johnny Murtagh before being challenged off the home-turn by both Ernest Hemingway and Scintillula.
A great battle developed, with Ernest Hemingway edging ahead inside the final furlong and battling to keep his two gallant rivals at bay by a half-length and the same.
Joseph O’Brien commented: “He relaxed well. They went fast early and then slowed it up. I was in front a bit soon and he idled like mad coming to the line. But he kept going and is progressing well.”
When asked where Ernest Hemingway might head next, O’Brien agreed: “The Irish St. Leger will fit into his programme well,” a comment which confirms a rematch with last year’s winner Royal Diamond, to which he was conceding 3lb. last night.
“He jumped and bowled along. Fast ground is his thing and he won as he was entitled to do,” commented Joseph O’Brien after partnering 30/100 favourite Friendship to a comfortable all-the-way win in the earlier seven furlong Irish Stallion Farms 2-Y-0 Maiden, initiating a Ballydoyle double.
The Galileo colt broke smartly and was never threatened, beating Bogardus by six lengths. O’Brien added: “The ground was plenty slow enough for him in Galway and he appreciated the faster surface tonight.”
The champion-jockey shared the riding honours on a night when both Pat Smullena snd Johnny Myrtagh also completed doubles.
Out of luck in the feature on Royal Diamond, Johnny Murtagh continued his superb current strike-rate when providing Curragh trainer Bill Farrell with a 142/1 double, getting both Ramone and At Boulavogue up close home to register narrow wins.
The once-raced Marju filly Ramone wore down Danseur De Feu and odds-on favourite Acting Talent in a finish of heads to the opening fillies maiden, her trainer explaining: “We’ve always liked her but she’s very big and needed time. There should be lots of improvement in her and she’ll be suited by a straight six furlongs.”
The Murtagh/Farrell double was completed by an even smaller margin when At Boulavogue collared Midnight General on the line to land the MSL Sandyford Handicap by a short-head.
“I was a bit afraid of the ground, but Johnny gave him great ride,” said Farrell. “What he needed was a strong ride from a senior jockey.”
Pat Smullen doubled-up on the once-raced, Dermot Weld-trained filly Convocate in the Bressie Maiden, a result which prompted her trainer to state: “It was a good, brave performance from a well-bred filly and it was nice to get a winning bracket with her.”
Harry Rogers, in Sligo, missed seeing the tough and versatile Giant’s Quest complete Smullen’s double in the concluding two-mile handicap. The seven-year-old stayed on stoutly to beat three-year-olds Weather Watch and Mourani.
Trainer’s wife Mary Rogers confirmed: “Plans will depend on the ground. He must have fast ground and will mix it, flat and hurdles.”
John Oxx saddled Majestic Jasmine (Declan McDonogh) to complete a hat-trick with a brave, battling display to beat Tropical Mist in the nine furlong fillies handicap.
“She has done well to win three in a row,” stated Oxx. “She has gone from 73 to 89 in the ratings and we’ll have to see what her limit is. She is very willing, puts her head down and tries hard. The cheekpieces helped her and, although she just about gets a mile and a quarter, this (nine furlongs) is her ideal trip.”