Dewhurst winner Intense Focus was turned over on his first start of the season in the Leopardstown 2000 Guineas Trial.
Jim Bolger’s colt was beaten by Kevin Prendergast’s Recharge who is now on course for a crack at the Irish 2000 Guineas itself.
Recharge (9-4) had to be switched to the outside by Chris Hayes to make his run and went on to score by a length from the evens favourite.
William Hill pushed Intense Focus out to 25-1 from 20s for the Stan James 2000 Guineas at Newmarket while the winner was introduced into the betting for the Irish 2000 Guineas at 12-1 by the same firm.
“After getting into trouble the jockey had to stop him and recharge so he did it well,” said Prendergast.
“I thought the ground would be a shade quick for him, so I’m delighted he handled it.
“He was only beaten three parts of a length by one of the leading Derby fancies (Sea The Stars), so if he was that good, he would have to have a squeak here.
“I doubt if he’ll run again before the Irish 2000 Guineas and he has an entry for the Irish Derby.
“He should not have trouble getting a mile and a quarter.”
Despite the defeat, Bolger was more than satisfied with his horse.
“I’m very happy with Intense Focus. He’ll come on for the run and I think the winner is very smart,” he said.
Bolger and jockey Kevin Manning wasted no time in bouncing back and captured the Leopardstown 1000 Guineas Trial with Maoineach (7-2).
The filly had looked an exciting prospect when making a winning debut in a Group Three at the Curragh in August only to finish last in the Prix Marcel Boussac on her only other start.
However, she showed her class with a smooth victory over Heart Shaped, who was runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Stan James were impressed, cutting Maoineach to 20-1 from 40s for the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket while William Hill went 14-1 from 25-1. Victor Chandler cut the runner-up to 20s from 33s.
However, the winner is by no means a certain starter at Newmarket.
“Newmarket would be on our minds but we’ve got Cuis Ghaire for that and she would be our number one. If for any reason she didn’t run there this one might,” said Bolger.
“Cuis Ghaire won’t have a run before the Guineas. She’s in good shape and she’s very easy to get ready.
“I expected that performance today, she’s a very smart filly and I was hoping she’d win.”
Bolger and Manning had initiated a double when Three Rocks took the Leopardstown Aertel Page 277 Handicap by a length and three-quarters from dead-heaters Empirical Power and Mourinho.
“Three Rocks is a really good horse and he’s an improver as well,” said Bolger.
Roses For The Lady (10-1) just held the strong-finishing Jakarta Jazz in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden.
“She is a nice filly. I thought she would improve from two to three, and for a trip. She will need to keep improving but we will give her a chance in Listed company,” said winning trainer John Oxx.
“She has an Oaks entry but she has to progress.”
Aidan O’Brien’s Roman Empress, the 2-1 favourite, was a big disappointment finishing eighth however he did win the Foxrock (C & G) Maiden with Rockhampton who was cut to 20-1 from 40s for the Derby by William Hill.
“He is a nice horse and Johnny (Murtagh) thought plenty of him. I hope he progresses, there should be plenty there and he could come back for the Ballysax or one of those trials,” said the winning trainer.