Pleascach is set for the Irish Derby after repelling hot favourite Found to claim Classic glory in the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh yesterday.
Having won the 10-furlong Blue Wind Stakes at Naas less than a fortnight ago in spectacular fashion, it was no surprise to see Pleascach ridden positively back over the mile by Kevin Manning, tracking pacesetting stable companions Mainicin and Steip Amach.
As that pair began to weaken heading inside the last two furlongs, 11-2 chance Pleascach moved into the lead, with Bocca Baciata following her through.
Found, winner of last season’s Prix Marcel Boussac but beaten on her seasonal return, encountered some trouble in running, but looked set to mow down Pleascach inside the final furlong.
Jim Bolger’s ace was not for catching, however, and passed the post half a length to the good.
Devonshire was third ahead of Jack Naylor and Bocca Baciata.
Bolger said: “She has a nice bit of toe and is basically not a miler. She’s a relentless galloper with a turn of foot as well.
“The Guineas is a bonus. It worked out well with a strong pace. I was a bit worried that a 66-rated filly (Mainicin) could do it (make the pace) and hopefully it won’t affect her mark too much!
“She will go for the Irish Derby and then the Oaks after that. Entering her in the Derby wasn’t so much what I thought about her, it was really what I thought about the colts, with all due respect to our neighbours.
“We think she’s very good, she’s right on that level with the colts.
“I bred the filly, her sire and the dam of the sire.
“She’s explosive, just like her name (English translation of Pleascach).”
Manning said: “The pacemaker did a great job, I was able to do my own thing with no one bothering me. From three out I just had to wind her up. It was a very fast-run race at Naas and I felt she had come on from that.
“Last year she won over seven and I think she’s very versatile. I’d have no questions about a mile and a half.”
Meanwhile Lion-hearted Al Kazeem grabbed Tattersalls Gold Cup for the second time in an enthralling renewal of the Group 1 ten-furlong contest.
Conqueror of Camelot in the race in 2013, the remarkable seven-year-old, a failure at stud, squeezed through under James Doyle to challenge between front-running Postponed and favourite The Grey Gatsby to lead inside the final furlong before holding the late surge of Dermot Weld’s Fascinating Rock by a neck, with Postponed a short-head away in third.
“He’s as good as he looks,” stated trainer Roger Charlton. “He’s an amazing, brave horse. I can’t believe how he went to stud and came back, better than ever. We’re just lucky to have him.”
He added: “There are better horses than him, but not many as brave. He toughs it out and just doesn’t run bad races. He performs consistently at the highest level and horses like him are good for racing. This is my proudest moment.”
Charlton confirmed that Al Kazeem will now head for Royal Ascot, where the Prince Of Wales Stakes is his probable target.
Aidan O’Brien ruled Giovanni Canaletto out of the Investec Derby following the uneasy even-money favourite’s defeat by David Wachman’s progressive filly Curvy in the Group 3 Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes.
A neck was the winning margin in favour of the Coolmore-owned filly, which was completing a hat-trick, following a couple of handicap wins in Navan, the first off a mark of just 72. Wachman suggested the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot as the next likely assignment for Curvy, which was ridden to victory by Wayne Lordan.
Aidan O’Brien provided Ryan Moore with the first and last legs of a Guineas day treble as newcomer Air Force Blue held the late challenge of Rockaway Valley in the two-year-old colts maiden and Bantry Bay, narrowly beaten on his recent debut at Leopardstown, justified 4/5 favouritism in the concluding ten-furlong maiden. Both horses could be bound for Royal Ascot, although their trainer was non-committal about plans.
Moore’s other success came on Martin Hassett’s consistent Master Speaker in the sprint handicap, a win which prompted the trainer to acknowledge “the Moore factor” as a vital ingredient.
In the other handicaps, the Kevin Prendergast-trained, Chris Hayes-ridden Majenta, a course and distance winner in 2013, denied Golden Spear in the N Conlan & Sons BMW Handicap while that runner-up’s trainer Tony Martin gained compensation when Fran Berry partnered Pyromaniac to a narrow win over Awesome Star in the two-mile Irish Tatler Handicap.
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