Nephrite upset the odds-on Born To Sea with a decisive win over Sea The Stars’ brother in the JRA Killavullan Stakes at Leopardstown.
In doing so, Nephrite boosted his Classic claims for 2012 and is now unbeaten in two starts.
Joseph O’Brien brought the Pivotal colt, trained by his father Aidan, through to pick off John Oxx’s youngster to go on to score by one and a half lengths.
Though it was later reported that on examination Born To Sea was found to be lame.
O’Brien’s two other runners in a field of seven, Vault and Ishvana set a good pace in the Group Three contest over seven furlongs.
While Johnny Murtagh made smooth progress on 8-11 favourite Born To Sea to lead a furlong out it was only brief as Nephrite (13-8) found a decent turn of foot to stamp his authority.
“I’m delighted. He progressed nicely from his maiden. He travelled well today and Joseph gave him a confident ride,” said O’Brien senior.
“He was stepping up to seven furlongs and he looked to get it well. It was a nice solidly run race. He should prefer better ground.”
When asked about the Qipco 2000 Guineas, O’Brien replied: “We’ll get through the winter and we’ll see after that.”
The bookmakers were impressed with Ladbrokes putting Nephrite in at 10-1 for the Newmarket Classic while pushing out Born To Sea to 14-1 from 8s.
Thomasgainsborough (11-2), ridden by Seamie Heffernan, pipped I Have A Dream by a short head to give O’Brien a one-two in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF (C&G) Maiden.
Zaminast proved an able deputy for her illustrious stablemate Famous Name by winning the Trigo Stakes.
With last year’s winner a late absentee due to lameness, Dermot Weld’s stable jockey Pat Smullen switched to the lightly-raced filly for the Listed contest.
The 7-4 favourite came with a wet sail on the outside to head the pace-setting Amazing Beauty and go on to score by two and three-quarter lengths from Defining Year.
Weld said: “She’s very progressive and I hope she’ll be kept in training next year.
“She hasn’t had a major problem she’s just very delicate. She was very light in the spring so we took our time and she was unlucky not to win her Group race last time.
“She’s very immature, she’s still very weak and she likes this ground, she’s not one for summer ground. I think she’ll be in Group races next year.
“There’s nothing else for Famous Name this year but the plan is to keep him in training for next season.”
That was the middle leg of a near 222-1 treble for Smullen, who cut Murtagh’s lead down to two in the race to be champion jockey in Ireland.
Smullen also struck on Coolnagree for Willie McCreery and Midnight Music for Weld.
Coolnagree (8-1) was giving Curragh trainer Willie McCreery a third successive win in the www.leopardstown.com Nursery while Midnight Music (8-1) came late to capture the Follow Leopardstown On Facebook Handicap.
North Yorkshire trainer Richard Fahey sent 9-2 favourite Take It to the Max to land the Derrinstown Stud Apprentice Handicap Final in the hands of Leigh Roche.
Eternal Beauty (6-1) reaped the benefit of a promising debut run to open her account in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden for trainer David Wachman and jockey Wayne Lordan.