JOSEPH O’Brien, who is locked in battle with Pat Smullen for the jockey’s championship, took a giant step towards landing his first senior title with a three-timer at the Curragh on Sunday, writes Ned Tierney.
The haul proved to be a double success for the O’Brien family as all three horses were trained by the jockey’s father Aidan. With such firepower in the yard the younger O’Brien must now be an odds-on chance to lift the crown at the end of the month.
The Galileo filly Magical Dream set the ball rolling with a useful enough success in the Group Three C.L. Weld Park Stakes over seven furlongs. Winner of a decent looking Galway maiden Magical Dream subsequently ran poorly when stepped up to Group Two level but had a decent outing when finishing fourth to Sky Lantern in the Moyglare Stud Stakes on her previous outing.
While the heavy hitters plumped for the Kevin Prendergast runner Spinacre, Magical Dream failed to read the script. After a prominent start she led inside the two furlong marker and ran on well to beat Rawaaq by couple of lengths with Uleavemebreathless a further three-parts of a length back in third position.
Another of the Galileo progeny, the bay colt Battle Of Marengo, put himself firmly in next year’s Derby picture with a comprehensive victory in the Group Two Beresford Stakes over a mile, giving Joseph O’Brien his second victory of the afternoon.
Since saddling Johan Cruyff to land this prize back in 1996 Aidan O’Brien has dominated it ever since. This was the 12th time that he has lifted the prize. A warm order in the betting market, Battle Of Marengo got a shade worked up before the start but it made little difference as he was always close up before leading a furlong or so out. Running all the way to the line, he had three and a half lengths to spare over Orgilgo Bay.
O’Brien seemed happy with the display in spite of the heavy conditions. While future plans are not finalised, the possibility is that the winner could take in the Racing Post Trophy before going into Winter quarters.
Declaration Of War completed the hat-trick for young Joseph with a comfortable success in the mile and two conditions race, an event for horses that had not won at either Group or Listed level.
A dual winner in France before joining the Ballydoyle yard, Declaration Of War shaped well on his Irish debut at the venue month ago and was a well-supported favourite. Joseph was in no hurry to commit him but once given the office inside the final furlong he picked up well and had a length and a half to spare over Ebazan where it mattered.
Another not in love with the ground the winner could make a quick reappearance at Dundalk this Friday evening.
Joseph and Pat Smullen were involved in a head-bobber in the opening juvenile fillies maiden but this time it was Smullen that came out on top when getting Salhooda up close home to deny Hanky Panky by a head.
An unfancied second on her debut at Killarney, Salhooda had a much better following this time and went to post favourite. After chasing the leaders she arrived to challenge Hanky Panky at the furlong marker, but it was only in the final strides that she asserted.
Colin Keane has emerged as a name to be reckoned with this season. He showed a glimpse of his prowess when giving To The Sky a peach of ride to land the mile and two apprentice handicap.
Coming from well off the pace To The Sky, which was bred by John McEnery at Rossenarra Stud near Kells, availed of a smooth passage up the inside to lead at the furlong marker. To The Sky kept pulling out enough to take the money by two and three-quarter lengths from Silver Shuffle.
Clonmel’s all jumping card saw local horses show up well on Sunday. Eoin Griffin was on the mark with Realt Den Chathair, which was a narrow winner of the first division of the three mile handicap hurdle, while the Kevin O’Donnell owned and trained Dubh Go Leir was an unlucky loser in the bumper when headed right on the line.
Kieran Purcell also went close with Misty Weather in the second division of the three mile handicap hurdle. However, his charge found Handsome Dan hard to handle and had to be content with second place.