MICHAEL Halford described Casamento as by far the best horse he has trained after the colt gave him his biggest ever success in the Juddmonte Beresford Stakes at the Curragh yesterfday.
The two-year-old, owned by Sheikh Mohammed, justified the €10,000 supplementary fee when landing the odds in the Group Two contest.
The 4-6 shot did what was asked of him and gained compensation for finishing second behind Pathfork in the National Stakes two weeks earlier.
Pat Smullen was happy to sit in second place and let the Aidan O’Brien-trained Robin Hood make the running.
Casamento ranged alongside the pacesetter two furlongs out and forged his way clear to win by four lengths.
“We were delighted with him. He settled very well behind the leader and when Pat picked him up he idled a little bit in front, but it’s a great race and some wonderful horses have won it,” said Halford.
“If he goes on to be anything like them we’d be very happy.
“He’s very laid-back at home, he did the one bit of work we were very pleased with so we decided to take our chance.
“We don’t have any plans yet. We will talk to the team and see how he comes out of the race.
“He’s the best horse I’ve had by a long way.”
Smullen added: “He’s a nice horse. He was a bit aggressive out of the gates and did the same in the National Stakes.
“When Seamie (Heffernan, rider of Robin Hood) went in front it was important I got him to settle which was good for the future.
“As a result he got very relaxed and I had to stoke him up to go and win and he won with plenty in hand.
“He’s an immature horse still mentally and will improve over the winter. He has the makings of a very good horse.”
Casamento was cut to 16-1 from 20-1 for the 2000 Guineas with Ladbrokes and 12-1 from 20s with Stan James.
It was a memorable day for the County Kildare trainer as he was also on target with Hujaylea (13-2) in the Whitney Moore Trophy.
Given a good ride by 7lb claimer Conor Hoban, the seven-year-old stuck on well to hold Luisant by a half a length.
Halford said: “It is unusual for a horse of that age to improve to that extent. I thought Conor rode him very well. There is no stopping the horse.
“There is a Listed race at Cork over a mile – the Navigation Stakes – which I’ll aim for next and then he might winter in Dubai for a bit of sun on his back.”
Chrysanthemum followed up her promising debut win at the track with a battling victory in the CL Weld Park Stakes to earn a 25-1 quote for the 1000 Guineas with Ladbrokes.
The David Wachman-trained filly knuckled down when asked the question by Wayne Lordan as she made her challenge between Bible Belt and Wild Wind.
There was plenty to admire about her attitude as the 7-2 shot stuck her neck out in the closing strides to beat the 11-4 favourite Wild Wind by a head, with Bible Belt a similar distance behind in third.
Wachman was completing a 75-1 double having taken the opening Irish Stallion Farms Joe McGrath EBF Maiden with Stage Master (16-1), ridden by Colm O’Donoghue.
“He had a previous run under his belt and David was very confident. He said the horse was an uncomplicated ride and he stuck it out well,” said the jockey.
O’Donoghue completed a double when Aidan O’Brien won the prestigious Hacketts Bookmakers Irish Cesarewitch with three-year-old Bright Horizion, who beat What A Charm by an emphatic five and a half lengths.
O’Brien stated: “He’s always been a smart horse. He loved today’s longer trip of two miles and Colm gave him a lovely ride.”
Supporters of the stable, however, were stunned as 14/1 Bright Horizon triumphed, with his stable-companion Clearwater Bay, sent off a strong 4/1 favourite, trailing in last of the twenty-three runners and prompting stable-jockey Johnny Murtagh to explain: “He was never travelling.”
Wayne Lordan, successful on Chrysanthemum in the earlier Group 3 completed a double when the Eddie Lynam trained Azali made a successful debut in the concluding Irish Pony Club Maiden.
The Cape Cross filly, which cost €125,000 as a yearling, swept through to get the better of Eighteen Summers inside the final furlong before stretching clear to score by three and a half lengths.
Biggest shock of the day came in the six-furlong Joe McGrath Handicap when That’s A Fret, trained by Liam McAteer and ridden by Niall McCullagh, foiled favourite Zaralanta by a neck.
McAteer declared: “My instructions to Niall were to come straight up the middle of the track. When he came in, he said the horse was tanking all the way and that he was full of running going to the furlong-pole.”
“This horse in not very big, but he’s brave. We tried to sell him, but we couldn’t get a bid for him and it has worked out for us. He certainly owes us nothing. Easy ground is the key to him and he got it today.”
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