After getting off the mark on the opening day of the flat season Jim Bolger kept up his winning run with a Leopardstown double.
Ceisteach and Sophisticated Air did the business on Sunday. For good measure, both of Bolger’s winners were ridden his son-in law Kevin Manning.
The New Approach filly Ceisteach set the ball rolling when she took the opening three-year-old fillies maiden in a tight finish with Kaleefa and Ode To Psyche.
Having finished second on her debut in a listed contest at Tipperary last August Ceisteach subsequently disappointed at Navan, but she has obviously gone the right way over the Winter months as there was a trickle of money for her.
The favourite, John Oxx’s runner She’s Mine never threatened to get involved in the testing conditions and finished out of the money. In contrast Ceisteach was never too far off the pace, taking the lead at the two furlong marker. Fighting off all-comers, Ceisteach hit the wire a nose to the good, with a short head separating second and third.
The first three all had hard races, which would not be ideal so early in the season but hopefully this will not leave a mark. They look well up to average and it will come as no surprise if they achieve black-type in the weeks ahead.
Sophisticated Heir, another of new Approach’s progeny, completed the Bolger brace with a workmanlike success in the seven furlong 61-82 handicap.
After a promising first outing of last season, when he finished second, the four-year-old lost his form and dropped down the handicap. The trainer has worked the oracle with Sophisticated Heir, who came with a challenge to lead well inside the final furlong before beating Flic Flac by a length and a half.
This was certainly a decent effort by the winner, but given the way he lost his way last term it will be interesting to see if he can reproduce this level of form.
Also in double form was Dermot Weld, who numbered the Listed 2000 Guineas Trial with Go For Goal among his catch.
With a crucial fitness edge on his rivals due to the good effort in handicap the previous week the grey son of Verglas was still easy to back at 7/1 as punters waded in on the Aidan O’Brien representative Indian Maharaja.
Failing to read the script, Go For Goal set off in front. Although he was joined by another O’Brien runner, Buonarroti, at the halfway point he saw off that challenge off turning for home before running to a three-parts of a length win over Shining Emerald, with Ebanoran a further two and a half lengths back in third place.
After the race the winning trainer said that his charge always gives his best and handles the current ground well. Weld was noncommittal about the 2,000 Guineas, but the feeling is that it was not on the agenda.
Indian Maharaja, who unseated his rider Joseph O’Brien after winning his maiden at Gowran Park last Summer, was a huge disappointment. He was one of the first to come off the bridle and while he was reported to be stiff behind post-race he hardly looks a genuine Guineas contender on this evidence.
Weld and rider Pat Smullen initiated their double earlier on when Fascinating Rock caused a mild surprise by taking the mile and two maiden for three-year-old colts and geldings.
There were plenty of talking horses in this race but they were certainly put in their place by Fascinating Rock, who came with a tremendous rattle in the straight.
Taking the lead inside the last furlong, the winner took the spoils by a length from Adjusted, with the odds-on favourite Marakoush two and a half lengths further in arrears in third position.
Having finished in mid division on his debut at the venue at the back end of the season Fascinating Rock has done well over the Winter months according to Weld. If he comes out of the race well he will be aimed at the Ballysax Stakes.
Aidan O’Brien had some measure of compensation for the defeat of Indian Maharaja when Bracelet turned over the odds-on Weld representative Balansiya in the Group Three 1,000 Guineas Trial Stakes.
Bred in the purple, this daughter of Montjeu and Cherry Hinton did not attract huge attention in the betting as the heavy hitters plunged on Balansiya. As things turned out this pair filled the first two places.
Held up off the pace, Bracelet finished with a flurry to peg back Balansiya almost on the shadow of the post before taking the money by a length.
Whether this level of form is up to 1,000 Guineas winning form remains to be seen, but the winner stuck to her task well. Going on pedigree, she would not be inconvenienced by a step up in trip.