Maharib earns possible Leger tilt

Maharib completed a hat-trick and earned a possible crack at the English St Leger when proving too good for the favourite Arundel in a keen duel in the IAWS Curragh Cup.

Maharib completed a hat-trick and earned a possible crack at the English St Leger when proving too good for the favourite Arundel in a keen duel in the IAWS Curragh Cup.

Successful against older horses over a mile-and-a-half at Limerick on his most recent start, Maharib travelled strongly throughout the race for jockey Pat Smullen.

Marahib got first run on the favourite and was always holding the renewed challenge of Arundel to score by three-quarters-of-a-length as the pair pulled clear of Rayshan.

“There is plenty more to come from this horse. I rode him to get the trip but he saw it out well,” said Smullen after the son of Alhaarth had coped splendidly with his first attempt over a mile and six furlongs.

“The English St Leger has to be a distinct possibility now. Maharib continues to progress and if he maintains that he could go to Doncaster,” said winning trainer Dermot Weld.

Owned and bred by Hamdan Al Maktoum, Maharib was moving with much more fluency than Arundel early in the home straight, quickening nicely to pass Rayshan and although Michael Kinane got serious with the favourite and straightened him for a last-gasp challenge the issue was never in doubt close home.

The Belgian-born French ace Christophe Soumillon, who was having his first taste of action on the Curragh, touched the front briefly on Rayshan before the principals quickened by his mount over a furlong out.

“The track is very nice and the ground is good,” remarked Soumillon who partners the hot favourite Dalakhani in tomorrow's Budweiser Irish Derby.

Arundel’s trainer Aidan O’Brien and champion jockey Kinane had better luck in the preceding U.A.E Equestrian/Racing Federation Maiden when The Mighty Tiger showed plenty of improvement from his initial third at Newmarket to outpace the favourite Clock Tower.

“This horse is big and scopey and will stay another furlong. He is progressing well,” said O’Brien after the American-bred son of Storm Cat had quickened in style to put the favourite firmly in his place.

In the wars on her previous outings at Epsom and Newmarket, Hanami compensated Newmarket trainer James Toller when coming with a perfectly-timed run to land the Audi Pretty Polly Stakes.

Held up by Soumillon, the 5-2 chance hit top gear inside the final furlong to catch and pass Zee Zee Top and score by a neck after the runner-up had been involved in an incident nearly two furlongs out that did nothing to help the chances of the third-placed Snippets.

“Christophe gave her a lovely ride and I’m sure he’s pleased to get a winner at the Curragh. I am very relieved that Hanami has won again,” remarked Toller after this Group Two triumph.

Brett Doyle on Sir Michael Stoute’s Zee Zee Top was travelling well turning for home on the inner, but was short of room and Doyle had to weave his way out of a pocket, causing a chain reaction on his outer as he attempted to steal a decisive advantage.

However, Soumillon was awake to the ploy and Hanami responded well for him to hit the front close home and score by a neck with Snippets just a length adrift in third.

The stewards promptly called an inquiry and after a delay of about 15 minutes, it was announced that Snippets was being promoted to the runner-up berth with Zee Zee Top relegated to third.

Toller now has to consider his next move with Hanami, a daughter of Hernando who scored at Newmarket last November as a juvenile.

“Being by Hernando you would imagine she would get further than this 10 furlongs. But I’m not sure if she stays a mile-and-a-half because she won as a two-year-old and has had the pace to run fifth to Russian Rhythm in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket over a mile after getting into trouble in running.

“We could come back here for the Darley Irish Oaks next month if she recovers quickly, but I think it best to go home, sit down and think about it and watch the video again.

“The ground was lovely – she wouldn’t want it too firm and handles it soft as well,” Toller added.

The promoted runner-up Snippets might well have won in the opinion of her rider Kevin Manning and the filly’s trainer Jim Bolger added: “She is not in the Irish Oaks, so we will probably wait for the Yorkshire Oaks. She was stopped in her run.”

Doyle was handed a four-day ban by the Curragh stewards after they judged him guilty of careless riding.

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