Leopardstown: Delphi dominates from the front

Leopardstown: Delphi dominates from the front

Rocky Blue and Joey Sheridan win the Leopardstown Handicap. Trainer Tom Mullins had hoped to run him in the Galway Hurdle but he’s not qualified for it and will instead run in another handicap at the festival. Picture: Healy Racing

The progressive, Aidan O’Brien-trained Delphi completed a hat-trick when capturing the listed Nijinsky Stakes, feature of yesterday’s action in Leopardstown.

Sent off 6/4 favourite to beat five rivals (Galileo Chrome was a notable absentee), he set a strong pace and stayed on strongly in the closing stages to slam stable-companion Numen by four and a quarter lengths, with Aunt Bee in third.

The winner, a son of Galileo, was making his stakes-race breakthrough, having won his maiden at the Curragh and a handicap (off 88) in Navan. Lordan commented, “He’s straightforward. He won from the front the last day and I was confident he’d stay the mile and a half. So I let him roll along in front.

“He doesn’t kill himself and you never know how much he has left. But he stayed on well up the straight and is a horse on an upward curve.”

Front-running tactics also paid off for Paddy Twomey’s Ebeka, a comeback winner (after suspension) for Billy Lee, in the opening Foran-sponsored two-year-old maiden.

“He’s progressed with each run and it’s great to win such a good pot with him – with the bonus, he’s won the guts of thirty grand here,” said the winning trainer. “It was pretty straightforward. Billy let him jump and bowl along and he won well.”

In-form apprentice Joey Sheridan doubled-up on Casesar’s Comet and the Tom Mullins-trained Rocky Blue, a smooth winner of the ten-furlong Leopardstown Handicap.

In the colours of Rory Larkin, Rocky Blue, a Grade 2 winner as a juvenile hurdler before breaking down, scored emphatically by three lengths from front-running top-weight Freescape.

Mullins declared:

He’s a lovely horse always playful at home and wants to get on with the job.

He explained, “The plan was the Galway Hurdle but I believe he’s not qualified for it – he has only run twice over hurdles. But he’ll be going to Galway anyway – it could be for the amateur handicap, the mile and a half premier handicap, or the handicap hurdle I won twice with Top Othe Ra.”

“I think there’s a good flat handicap and good handicap hurdle in him. He might even be a horse for the English Cesarewitch. But he’s a bit fragile and I just hope he’s okay in the morning.”

The seven-furlong Holden Plant Rentals Handicap, produced a tighter finish as the Denis Hogan-trained 100/30 favourite Caesar’s Comet pipped top-weight Swiss Army Officer by a short-head after a good tussle, giving Sheridan the first leg of his double.

The Joseph O’Brien-trained Gin Blossom (Shane Crosse) stepped-up on her seasonal debut run at Tipperary to land the fillies’ median auction maiden impressively by four lengths, prompting O’Brien’s representative Brendan Powel, to comment: “She fell out of the stalls in Tipperary and was always on the back foot, although she came home well. She quickened up well tonight and I’m sure Joseph will be looking for black type for her at some stage.

Aztec Parade, the 1/6 favourite, gave Johnny Murtagh his twentieth win of the season when turning the colts’ event into a procession, making virtually all before being pushed out by Ben Coen to triumph by ten lengths from Loved Out.

“He’s run into a couple of good ones, but he’s a grand horse, a great mover with size and scope,” said Murtagh. “All he can do is improve. “We’ll probably try him listed company now.”

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