Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed and several representatives of the Cork Flat Breeders were present for a high-class programme at Mallow racecourse yesterday afternoon, where the featured Munster Oaks went to the Aidan O’Brien-trained Pretty Perfect.
Sent to the front from the outset, she was a little keen early but Colm O’Donoghue got her settled and was able to dictate matters. The would-be challengers queued up as they turned for home, but O’Donoghue had kept plenty, and duly sent his mount for home.
The Galileo filly, bouncing back from a sub-par display in the Irish 1000 Guineas, ran on strongly to score with plenty to spare, with easy-to-back favourite Shamreen four lengths back in second place.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien, winning the race for the third consecutive year, said: “She ran bad in the Guineas and that threw us, but maybe we ran her back too quickly. But she stays very well, and did the same in Navan (made all), with Colm. We’re delighted with that because we thought the second filly was going to be very hard to beat. She might go to the Irish Oaks now.”
The highlight on the undercard was the listed Coral.ie Midsummer Sprint Stakes and it went for export as the Robert Cowell-trained Spirit Quartz earned a long overdue return to winning ways.
Without a win since June 2013, he was never far off the pace here and, under a typically calculated ride by Pat Smullen, always looked to be doing enough to see off well-backed favourite Ardhoomey.
Said Smullen: “It looked a good opportunity for him, and the ease in the ground was a big help. He is a good, solid sprinter and probably just that grade above them. He’s getting on in years but still retains a lot of his enthusiasm.”
Epsom heroes Dermot Weld, Pat Smullen and HH Aga Khan combined to land the less-prestigious but nevertheless valuable Cork Derby with Alveena. The filly travelled noticeably well and when Smullen switched her to make her move in the straight, it quickly became apparent she was on the way to victory. Highly Toxic, who tried to make all, stayed on well to hold onto second place.
“She’s a good, brave, consistent filly, and I thought she’d be hard to beat,” admitted Weld. “Pat gave her a lovely ride. The important thing, from a 16 draw, was that he went up and got a nice position.”
Weld, who does very well here, was effusive in his praise for the track: “I love this racetrack, I think it’s one of the top racecourses in Europe, never mind Ireland.
“I’ve always been a huge supporter, I think it’s a cracking track, and that’s why I run these horses here. Look what you got – you got the winner of the Derby (Harzand) and the winner of the Guineas (Jet Setting) here earlier in the year.”
The first upset of the afternoon came in the opening fillies’ maiden in which Miss Cogent made most and battled back when headed to deny odds-on favourite Arabian Verse by a neck. The drama came late as the winner jinked away from the winning post, causing jockey Ross Coakley to tumble to the ground – but the line came just in time for the rider to keep control.
When asked what the ground was like, the winning jockey quipped: “There’s a bit of cushion in it.”
Of the winner, he explained: “She just saw the red marker, and showed her greenness. I should have hung on, but held on where it mattered. She’s still a bit green, there’s plenty of improvement in her, and should be a nice filly going forward.”
Peticoatgovernment landed the four-runner, five-furlong handicap for trainer Willie McCreery. Nora Batt set out to make all but the eventual winner tracked her early, got on top over a furlong out, and raced home comfortably clear of Jenniechild.
In division one of the Coral.ie 45-65 handicap Prince Jock, ridden by Keith Moriarty for his father, Albert, quickened clear in the straight to score readily, from Apache Gold.
In the second division, Fairy Flute was matched at 1000 in running on Betfair before she produced a last-gasp effort to snatch victory from Tamisa and Lomi’s Law. Trained by Charles O’Brien and ridden by Declan McDonogh, it was a first victory for the lightly raced four-year-old.
Crafted Jewel, runner-up to Pretty Perfect in a back-end maiden in 2015, gained a deserved breakthrough when landing the finale for Sheila Lavery. The imposing grey filly travelled sweetly for Gary Carroll, went to the front halfway up the straight, and won with ears pricked, from promising debutant Boca Raton.
“That’s a great relief,” said Lavery. “Gary said she is a black-type filly, and I’ll now have a look on the calendar for a listed or group race for her.”
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