Duntle, winner of the Sandringham Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, earned a valuable Group 3 bracket when getting the better of in-foal Ballybacka Lady and Requisition in the featured Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown last night, where the ground turned soft after rain before and during racing.
A Danehill Dancer filly, owned by the Niarchos family and expected to campaign in America later in the year, Duntle provided Wachman and jockey Wayne Lordan with the second leg of a double, initiated by two-year-old debutant Galileo Rock.
Racing on unfavourable soft ground, Duntle’s class told in the final furlong as she edged out Ballyback Lady by three-quarters of a length. A delighted Lordan explained: “She’s a top-of-the-ground filly and struggled a bit in the ground early in the race. But the best of the ground is from the two furlong-pole to the winning post. And, when she met the rising ground, she was fine.”
The John Oxx-trained Takar started an uneasy favourite and flopped badly, Niall McCullagh’s mount trailing in last of the eight runners. McCullagh reported that the colt had been “struck into”.
The two-year-old colts’ maiden produced the most impressive performance of the night as the Wachman-trained newcomer Galileo Rock, a three-parts brother to crack stayer Saddlers Rock, appeared to be struggling before coming from off the pace and bolting up by seven lengths from favourite Hall Of Mirrors (Joseph O’Brien), which made the running before blowing his chance by hanging badly across the track.
Galileo Rock picked up well when popped the question and stretched clear to win in great style, prompting his rider to explain: “He was a little bit babyish. But, when he met the rising ground, he changed his legs and the penny dropped. He quickened well in that ground and is a nice horse for the future.”
Ger Lyons is looking forward to campaigning Piri Wango in Dubai during the winter following his gutsy half-length defeat of the flattering Flic Flac in the seven-furlong Saw Doctors Handicap.
Having made the early running, Emmet McNamara didn’t panic on Piri Wango when headed by the eventual runner-up early in the straight and the Choisir gelding fought back well inside the final furlong to reassert close home.
“Seven furlongs around a bend is exactly what he wants — that’s what Frankie (Dettori) and Johnny (Murtagh) have told me after riding him. But he wants top of he ground and I came close to pulling him out tonight. I think he’s an ideal horse for Dubai and he’ll make a smashing four-year-old..”
Lyons completed a double in the concluding Leopardstown Apprentice Handicap when Phantom Of Plenty, ridden by Gary Phillips, made all to slam his rivals, staying on strongly up the straight to beat Tiffilia by nine lengths.
“Full credit to the young lad,” said Lyons afterwards. “He’s not the easiest horse to deal with. But I told him that the winning of the race would be judging the pace right ad he did a great job.”
A step into stakes company is planned for the John Oxx-trained What Style, a debutante by Teofilo, which landed the competitive looking two-year-old fillies maiden in a three-way battle with favourite Snow Queen (Joseph O’Brien carried 2lb. overweight) and promising newcomer Bracing Breeze.
Ridden by Niall McCullagh, What Style displayed a commendable attitude in keeping her rivals at bay and prevailed by a half-length and a head. Oxx commented: “She’s a nice filly and won, well, but she’d prefer better ground.
“Niall said she was looking around a bit, but she went on again when the other two fillies came at her. She should improve from the run and will go for a stakes race next.”
Dropping in trip (she ran over a mile and a half in Galway) and wearing cheekpieces for the first time, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Circle gained a valuable bracket when making all, under Joseph (again carrying 2lb. overweight) to land the seven-furlong fillies maiden.
Circle proved too strong for favourite Mona Brown and O’Brien admitted: “We were going the wrong way with her — she didn’t get the mile-and-a-half in Galway — and dropping back in trip made a big difference to her,”
Trainer Pat Flynn was not present to see Bonnie Acclamation bounce back to form in the opening, six-furlong Follow Leopardstown On Facebook Handicap, the tough four-year-old scoring emphatically to give apprentice Danny Benson his thirteenth success.
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