Idaho, a full-brother to Grade 1 winner Highland Reel, looked the class-act at the Curragh yesterday as the curtain fell on the 2015 season at headquarters.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained son of Galileo, making his debut, powered clear inside the final furlong to beat the experience Theodorico and Munaashid convincingly by three and a half lengths in the one-mile Irish Stallion Farms 2-Y-0 Maiden.
“He was ready to run, but it was his first time away, so you’d have to be happy with him,” said the winning trainer, after greeting his winner, which was ridden by Joseph O’Brien.
“He has taken more time to get to the track than his brother, but managed to win first time. He opened up well and covered the last furlong well.
“He should make a nice middle-distance colt next year. He’s in both Group 1’s in France in the next few weeks, the mile and mile and a quarter races in Saint-Cloud. So we’ll see how he progresses before making a decision.”
The other two-year-old maiden, the seven-furlong fillies event, went to the Dermot Weld-trained Raymonda, a half-sister to Brooch and Caponata, which beat Twin Falls in great style to initiate a double for soon-to-be-crowned champion for the eighth time Pat Smullen.
Kris Weld, representing his father, commented: “Her aunt (Emulous) won this race in 2008 and her family has been very good to us. She’s still a weak, backward sort and should develop into nice stakes filly next year.”
Smullen followed-up on board the David Marnane-trained Oliveraie, which was awarded the Curragh 2016 Starts 20th March Handicap in the Stewards Room, having been beaten a half-length by the Killian Leonard Clear Focus, which edged left inside the final furlong, hampering Smullen’s mount. Leonard was subsequently banned for two days for careless riding.
Joe Murray trains just two horses outside Navan, but has a gem in his yard in the shape of six-year-old Captain Cullen, which registered his first success over five furlongs when defying top-weight in the Book 2016 Curragh Hospitality Handicap.
Apprentice Ian Queally gets a particularly good tune out of the Strategic Prince gelding and brought him from off a strong pace to defeat Sweetest Taboo ((receiving 25lb.) by a length and a half.
“He had a good run in a premier handicap two weeks ago and I thought a reproduction of that would see him go close,” explained Murray.
“That’s his second win here this year and his first over five furlongs – he’s not a typical five-furlong sprinter, but he’s class. Ian’s a good rider and has always got on well with him. His 7lb. claim was a help.”
Having his final run for Jim Bolger before heading for the Sales, Wexford Opera (Kevin Manning) travelled well throughout the seven-furlong Go Racing In Kildare 2016 Membership Handicap before running out an emphatic length and a half winner from Downforce.
“That proves that God loves a trier,” quipped Bolger. “That’s his last run for us – he’s going to the Sales.”
Also bound for the Horses-in-Training Sales is the Ger Lyons-trained Van Schaick, which got off the mark, on his handicap debut, in the Become A 2016 Curragh Member Handicap.
Ridden by Colin Keane, the Rip Van Winkle dug deep to see off favourite Alveena by a neck after a tremendous tussle. Shane Lyons stated: “It was his first run in a handicap and he had to do it the hard way. He was a bit slow away, which probably suited him. They went plenty fast enough and Colin got him settled. It was lovely to see him go ding-dong up the straight and being very gutsy. That ground is as quick as he’d like but he got the trip well.”
Michael Halford wasn’t present to see battle-hardened Shadagann, ridden by Shane Foley, land the six-runner Go Racing In Kildare Rated Race. The winning rider explained: “He was unlucky the last day in Fairyhouse. He got upset in the stalls and was slowly away, but ran on well from an unpromising position. He likes the Curragh.”
Leigh Roche ended the Curragh season on a high when partnering the Pat Flynn-trained 16/1 shot Mademoiselle Penny, trained by Pat Flynn, to a clear-cut victory in the 2016 Flat Season begins March 20th Handicap.
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