Battling Hall fights off Merger

Albert Hall propelled himself to the forefront of Aidan O’Brien’s juvenile team with a battling success in the Juddmonte Beresford Stakes at the Curragh today.

Albert Hall propelled himself to the forefront of Aidan O’Brien’s juvenile team with a battling success in the Juddmonte Beresford Stakes at the Curragh today.

Sent off the odds-on favourite, Jamie Spencer’s mount set out to make all the running but found himself strongly pressed by Merger with just under a quarter of a mile to run in the Group Two contest.

Merger looked poised to win at one stage, but as the two horses came close together inside the distance Albert Hall refused to give in and at the line had half a length to spare.

A stewards’ inquiry was called, but no alteration was made to the placings.

“He’s a lovely horse who was very raw the first day he ran and he was the same today. He has a big engine and is a strong galloping horse. Jamie said he was just getting into his stride at the line,” said O’Brien, who was enjoying his seventh victory in the race.

“We’ll see how he comes out of this before deciding whether to run him again this season.”

Cashmans introduced Albert Hall at 25-1 for next year’s Vodafone Derby.

Bibury Flyer gave Tony Culhane his first success at the track when she took the Listed Flame Of Tara EBF Stakes, for which the favourite Lock And Key refused to go into the stalls.

The Mick Channon-trained filly, who was sent off at 12-1, was always travelling well on the heels of the leaders and moved past Virginia Waters with a furlong to run before going on to hold that rival by half a length.

It was Bibury Flyer’s 19th race of the season.

There was a further surprise for punters in the Rathbarry Stud’s Barathea Finale Stakes when Tipperary All Star triumphed under a tremendous ride from Johnny Murtagh.

The jockey dashed his mount (12-1) to the front with over half a mile to travel and established a race-winning advantage that saw him home half a length in front of Starrystarrynight, despite tiring.

“Johnny gave him a great ride and he just got a little tired in the final half-furlong. He is going hurdling and has schooled well,” said winning trainer Michael Halford.

Murtagh went on to record a double aboard the Roger Charlton-trained Striking Ambition in the Leinster Leader Waterford Testimonial Stakes.

Sent off the 4-1 favourite, the four-year-old made all the running and could be called the winner at halfway before eventually easing home three and a half lengths clear of Grand Reward.

Essex foiled Solerina’s gallant attempt to make all in the Hackett’s Bookmakers Irish Cesarewitch.

Solerina (100-30 favourite) was well clear at one stage in the two-mile handicap and had the rest of the field well strung out.

However, she had no answer as Rory Cleary brought the Michael O’Brien-trained Essex to challenge in the final quarter-mile, and James Bowe’s mare had to be content with second place, four and a half lengths behind the 16-1 winner.

Sandy Owen was third, with Solerina’s stablemate Florida Coast fourth of the 20 runners.

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