First Cornerstone handsomely repaid the supplementary entry fee of €9,500 stumped up on Tuesday when winning the Group 2 Galileo Futurity Stakes for in-form trainer Andy Oliver and new owners Team Valor at the Curragh yesterday.
The Hurricane Run colt, added to the field on the back of a shock listed win at Tipperary last time, got the better of chief Ballydoyle contender Flying The Flag in good style, providing winning rider Chris Hayes with his first Group 2 success.
Hayes had enjoyed a tremendous week, riding no less than eight winners, having recorded doubles at Roscommon (Monday), Bellewstown (Wednesday) and Tipperary (Thursday) before capturing Saturday’s Irish Cambridgeshire on the Oliver-trained Punch Your Weight. He’s now on the 40-winner mark for the season, in fifth position on the Jockeys Championship table.
Held up by Hayes in a four-runner affair, First Cornerstone came through strongly to get the better of Flying The Flag by a length and half, to the delight of a relieved Oliver who stated: “It’s great when a plan comes to fruition.”
The County Tyrone-based trainer then explained: “I was impressed by his attitude and the way he did things, more than the result, when he won in Tipperary. He’s a good-moving horse, but Tipperary proved that he handles soft ground. That was important coming here. I had this race in mind for him and I though some of the big-name horses might pull out.
“The horse’s new owners, Team Valor (a U.S. — based syndicate, headed by Barry Irwin) were very good to indulge me and go along with my plan to run today. They are based in America and the horse might end up there.”
Contrasting reactions to the Group 3 action, jubilation for Ballinasloe-based trainer Muredach Kelly (training his first Group- race winner) and the owners of My Girl Anna after her victory in the Flying Five and acceptance by Aidan O’Brien and his Coolmore team that highly-rated, globe-trotting filly Up had earned a valuable stakes bracket in the Lanwades Stud Fillies Stakes.
Ridden by Rory Cleary, 10/1 shot My Girl Anna mastered trail-blazing British raiders Judge ‘N Jury and Inxile before beating favourite Fire Lily by a length and three-quarters in the Group 3 sprint.
Cleary, who picked up a two-day whip ban, commented: “I sat close to the front-runners and felt I always had them covered. It’s great for Muredach — he works hard — and the owners (Owen Murphy and Alison Cleary). I wouldn’t be surprised if she goes to France now (for the Group 1 Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp).”
Back from a trip to Arlington Park in Chicago last weekend, where she ran in the Beverly D Stakes, the Joseph O’Brien-ridden Up proved a convincing winner of the Lanwades Stud Fillies Stakes, prompting Aidan to comment: “This filly has been everywhere, but she’s hardy.”
He continued: “She always promised to be a very good filly and is highly-rated. She arrived home from America on Monday and was in good form. This looked a good opportunity. She’s classy enough to run in any of the top fillies races and might run, along with Maybe, in the Matron Stakes (Group 1) at Leopardstown.”
Joseph O’Brien later completed a double and extended his lead to 59-56 over Pat Smullen in the title-race, when getting Mick Mulvany’s Battleroftheboyne home a narrow winner of the concluding five-furlong handicap.
A crack at the Group 3 C L Weld Park Stakes is on the cards for the John Oxx-trained Karamaya following her last gasp debut win in the opening two-year-old maiden while former champion apprentice Emmet McNamara is within two winners of losing his 3lb., thanks to Joe Eile’s all-the-way win in the Tipperary Crystal Handicap.
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