Winner of the Irish Lincoln last year and seventh behind yesterday’s favourite Sruthan (finished fourth) in this year’s renewal, the five-year-old toughed it out well under Wayne Lordan to prevail by a half-length with Joailliere in third.
In his post-race comments, Fozzy Stack explained: “He met with some interference early in the Lincoln, but came home well and has done well since then. And, don’t forget, he was carrying 16lb. more than last year in the Lincoln.
“But he’s tough and loves that ground and plans depend on the weather. He could go to Cork for a listed race (the Heritage Stakes on April 16) or head for the Amethyst (at Leopardstown), which he won last year. He’ll have a summer holiday, if we get a summer and the ground dries out, and will come back in the autumn.”
The other stakes race on the card, the listed Coral.ie Alleged Stakes saw the seasonal debut of Breeders Cup Turf heroine Found. But the Ballydoyle filly, keen through the race, finished only third under Ryan Moore as Zhukova, ridden for Dermot Weld by Pat Smullen, and long-absent front-runner Success Days fought out the finish.
Victory went to Pat Smullen’s mount, by four and three-quarter lengths. A delighted Weld stated: “It looked an excellent renewal and this is a nice mare. She won the Oyster Stakes in Galway last year and has grown and strengthened over the winter. She was bred by my late mother and we have all the family at home.”
Asked about plans, he replied: “I’m not sure where she’ll go next. But the Blue Wind Stakes (Group 3 in Naas on May 11) is a possibility.”
Aidan O’Brien expressed himself happy with Found, commenting: “She was a bit fresh and keen and got tired in the ground. But that was to be expected. She’ll improve from the run and we might run her again before going for the Tattersalls Gold Cup (on Guineas weekend next month).”
The concluding ten-furlong maiden saw two well-touted and potentially high class colts clash. The Aidan O’Brien-trained Us Army Range, under a patient ride from Ryan Moore, got up well inside the final furlong to foil favourite Aasheq, representing Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen, by three-quarters of a length.
Bookmakers reacted by cutting Us Army Ranger to 12/1 generally for the Investec Derby at Epsom.
Aidan O’Brien explained: “He was very raw last year and had a small problem, so we didn’t get to run him. Pat (Smullen) rode him in work here two weeks ago and liked him. I told Ryan to drop him in today and educate him. He did well to win, coming from where he was.
“He’s a lovely colt, with a great pedigree and he could go to the Derrinstown (Derby Trial at Leopardstown on May 8) or to Chester for education.
“But he’ll only have one more run if he’s going to Epsom.”
Only eleventh in the opening two-year-old race of the season, Adrian Keatley’s The Mcgregormator (Gary Carroll) swooped late to deny odds-on favourite Challender in the two-year-old maiden.
A step into stakes company is next on the agenda for Ceol An Ghra, which won the six-furlong fillies maiden for Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning, battling bravely to beat Waitaki.
The Johnny Levins-trained Mr. Right (Ronan Whelan) held the late flourish of favourite Master Speaker in the six-furlong handicap while Buenos Y Bobos dug deep for Billy Lee to land the mile and a quarter handicap for trainer Paddy Twomey, beating Gallope and favourite Papa’s Way.