FAMOUS Name powered to victory over Steinbeck in the Group 3 Jockey Club Of Turkey Meld Stakes at Leopardstown last night, the ninth career win for Khalid Abdullah’s classy five-year-old.
Having tracked Ballydoyle pacemaker Lord High Admiral, Pat Smullen made his move on the 4/6 favourite turning for home and, soon in command, Famous Name ran on strongly to beat market rival Steinbeck (Johnny Murtagh) by two and a half lengths.
“He’s a pleasure to ride and as good as he’s ever been,” declared a delighted Smullen, while trainer Weld added: “He’s a joy to train and probably the most consistent Group-level colt in Europe. And I’d even say that, at the age of five, he’s better than ever this year. And Pat agrees.
“That’s his ninth win and he’s gone close at Group 1 level. He’s just a very, very high-class horse and that easy ground was ideal for him.”
Regarding plans, Weld explained: “There’s no definite plan in place. I have an open mind and must speak to Lord Grimthorpe and Prince Khalid. But races like the Jacques Le Marois in Deauville and the Arlington Million are possible targets.”
Earlier, the Aidan O’Brien trained Zoffany made it four wins from five starts when coasting to victory, at odds of 1/7 in the Group 3 Korean Racing Authority Tyros Stakes, a race won in recent seasons by such subsequent stars as Teofilo, New Approach, Rip Van Winkle and Cape Blanco.
Confidently handled by Johnny Murtagh, Zoffany progressed to tackle and master front-running stable companion High Ruler, scoring effortlessly by two lengths and prompting Murtagh to quip, “I’ll be embarrassed taking a fee for that.” In the absence of the successful trainer, Murtagh later commented: “He’s a smart horse and travels well in his races. They could have gone a bit quicker for him, but he did it well. The ground was not ideal. He’ll be capable of stepping-up to the next rung on the ladder.”
Hot-pot Gatamalata, backed from even money to 4/7 on-course, was turned over in the opening Irish Stallion Farms Median Auction 2-Y-0, making most of the running before being readily outpointed by the Kevin Prendergast trained Snow Watch, stepping-up on his debut run behind Sydney Harbour at the Curragh.
Snow Watch, a grey son of Verglas, carries the colours of the Silverton Hill Partnership, successful with exciting juvenile prospect Pathfork at the Curragh last Sunday. Trainer Prendergast was not present, but McDonogh explained: “He’s a horse with plenty of talent. He worked like a good horse in the spring and was going to be an early runner. But things went slightly off course with him and the boss (Prendergast) decided it would be better to geld him.”
Out of luck with Gatamalata, trainer Joe Murphy enjoyed better luck, and provided Pat Smullen with the second leg of a double, when Tilahow won the Delorentos Maiden at the expense of Devils Bit. Murphy commented: “He’s a lovely horse, one of my favourites, and he could be top-class, with age. He’s still immature but could be anything”.
In the handicap action, Gracchus came good on the level for trainer Noel Meade, landing the seven-furlong Rochestown Handicap in the hands of apprentice Emmet McNamara. The four-year-old Black Minnaloushe gelding was produced to challenge inside the final furling to beat Rambling Dancer, prompting Meade to explain: “Jumping has probably toughened him up a bit and helped him to relax. He’s used to pull very hard in his races.
“He was entitled to win one on the flat after a few decent runs and he might go to Galway next week, for a mile handicap. I think he’ll stick to the flat for now.”
Strandfield Lady, successful over course and distance last Thursday and carrying only a mandatory penalty, followed-up in the Derrinstown Stud Apprentice Handicap.
Ridden again by Daryl Byrne (riding his eleventh career winner), the mare stayed wide throughout before getting the better of Flattery, Home Secretary and Holly Hill.
Rogers said: “She had a lot of near misses before winning last week and I though she had a great chance with a 5lb. penalty. She got a very good ride from Daryl, staying wide for the best of the ground. If the ground dries up a bit, she might run in a mile and a half handicap in Galway on Wednesday or Thursday.”
Johnny Murtagh completed a double in the finale, the EMC ‘Private Cloud’ Handicap, giving the Andy Heffernan trained Princess Lomi an excellent, front-running ride to beat Alamanda and Spring Hawk in a good tussle.
“There was no pace, so I decided to dictate it, and she relaxed well in front,” explained Murtagh, who was registering his 50th win in Ireland this season.
Winning trainer Heffernan said: “She’s in foal to Amadeus Wolf and has had three quick runs, trying to get another win. Johnny gave her a great ride. It always pays to get the best. She didn’t sty in Killarney the last day and she’ll be retired now.”
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