Carla Bianca keeps Weld bandwagon rolling along

Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen struck again when Carla Bianca landed the featured Naas Oaks Trial in Naas last night.

The Moyglare-owned filly, wide-margin winner of a Navan maiden last time and sent off a strong 13/8 second favourite, got the better of 6/4 favourite Palace and Circling after a ding-dong battle up the Naas hill, capturing this listed prize by three-quarters of a length.

This latest stakes-race win pushed Weld’s earnings in Ireland through the €900,000 barrier in win and place prize-money for 2014. The Mater of Rosewell House commented: “She won her maiden impressively and did it nicely again tonight. Fast ground is vital to her — she’s a lovely long-striding filly — and, although she was slow to come to hand in the spring, she has matured and developed a lot.

“She’s progressing well and is enjoying life. A mile and a quarter is her right trip and we’ll try to find a Group-race for her now.”

The highly-regarded, Aidan O’Brien-trained Cougar Mountain impressed on his belated racecourse debut in the six-furlong New BBQ Format At Naas Maiden, quickening clear to beat the 87-rated but exposed Monsieur Power convincingly by five and a half lengths, Joseph O’Brien enthused: “He’s a horse we’ve always liked and was our best two-year-old, but had a few niggly problems. He was quite green and got there too soon, after I gave him a slap down the shoulder. I just pushed him out with hands and heels and he quickened real well.

“It’s always frustrating to have a good horse standing in his box. But we’re a bit excited about this fellow. Hopefully, he’ll progress and he has a chance of being a Group 1 horse. Five, six or seven furlongs wouldn’t be a problem. He wants fast ground and might stay a mile.”

Aidan and Joseph O’Brien completed a double in the concluding one-mile fillies maiden when 9/10 favourite Shell House battled tenaciously to see off Sea Coast by a short-head. Joseph explained: “She ran well the last day (in Navan), but stepping down in trip wasn’t ideal — I think she’ll get a mile and a half.”

Johnny Murtagh registered his first double as a trainer in the handicap action, thanks to the enterprising tactics employed by Ross Coakley and Niall McCullagh on Derulo and Dalkova respectively.

“Ross is a great worker and that’s his first winner for me — I think he stole it,” said Murtagh after Derulo’s win in the apprentice handicap while the clear-cut victory of the previously disappointing Dalkova over Barack in the Oneplace IT Handicap was particularly sweet for the Curragh handler. “Naas has been a lucky place for me and I’m happy to have my first double here.”.

The meeting opened with a shock, when 16/1 shot Itorio, having his third run, made all under Mick Hussey to beat Devonshire and Fairy Flute in the six-furlong two-year-old maiden.

A son of Oratorio, Itorio is trained near Summerhill, County Meath, by Sheila Lavery, who commented: “Mick said after he rode him in Leopardstown that he’d win next time. He’s a lovely horse to deal with, has a great attitude and is still learning. Mick was quite confident tonight but said he was still quite green in front and that he’ll improve again. He said that seven furlongs won’t be a problem for him.”

In contrast, the James Barrett-trained Lake George landed a tidy gamble in the hands of Dylan Robinson in the KC Civil Engineering Supporting Naas Hurling Handicap. The six-year-old, described by his trainer as “tough and honest”, was backed from as big as 16/1 in the morning and sent off 5/1 joint-favourite.

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