He mightn’t have been as quick out of the blocks as Jim Bolger or Dermot Weld in the new flat season, but Aidan O’Brien is still cranking up the gears.
The Ballydoyle maestro upped the pace with a double at Navan on Saturday, a brace which included a win by the highly-impressive Dazzling.
The Galileo filly Dazzling put herself firmly in the Oaks picture with a commanding display to land the mile and two listed race in the hands of the trainer’s son Joseph.
Bought for a pretty penny from the Sangster family by the Coolmore team, Dazzling made an impressive racecourse debut at the Curragh in September but was a shade disappointing when stepped up to Listed company at the same venue. She has obviously gone the right way in the interim and lay down a marker for others to follow.
Breaking smartly from stalls, Dazzling had her opponents at full stretch turning to face the judge. Her jockey did not have to get too serious with her to land the spoils by a length and three-parts from Crystal Fashion, with another Ballydoyle runner Terrific a fast finishing third just a nose further in arrears.
A clearly pleased O’Brien revealed post-race that his charge is a lovely staying filly with a good attitude. She will have another outing, possibly in the Musidora at York, before heading to Epsom for the Oaks.
Caught the eye
Terrific certainly caught the eye, finishing with a flourish after being adrift of the principals. A longer trip would suit her, but she is certainly one to keep on the right side of in the coming weeks.
If there was a disappointment in the race it was the Dermot Weld runner I’m Yours. She looked a high class filly when winning at Leopardstown in October, but pulled hard throughout the race and had little left when the race began in earnest from the two furlong marker.
According to connections the tacky nature of the ground was against her and she will improve for the outing. However, the ground was the same for the other runners, so it will be interesting to see if she lives up to her home reputation.
Although she failed to see a racecourse as a juvenile Palace was regarded by Aidan O’Brien as his best filly. She made an eye-catching debut at Leopardstown at the beginning of the month and built on that display with a comprehensive victory in the mile maiden for three-year-old fillies.
An odds-on chance, the daughter of Fastnet Rock was settled off the pace. She improved smoothly to lead heading to the furlong marker and ran all the way to the line, where she had four and three-quarter lengths to spare over Gorteo.
Good ground will bring out the best in her and she will have another outing before contesting the Irish 1000 Guineas next month.
While I’m Yours failed to live up to expectations Dermot Weld looks to have a live contender for top honours in the shape of Fascinating Rock, who ran out a comfortable enough winner of the Group Three Ballysax Stakes over the Jim Bolger-trained favourite Answered.
An impressive winner of what looked a hot Leopardstown maiden last month, the son of Fastnet Rock was settled off the pace by rider Pat Smullen. He picked off the leaders with ease in the straight before going on to land the spoils by two and a half lengths.
Weld was absent from the meeting due to the death of his mother, but Smullen reported post-race that this could be a proper horse. He is from the first European crop of the former Australian champion sire Fastnet Rock, who is now resident at Coolmore Stud. According to Smullen, he could develop into a Derby contender.
Weld and Smullen had earlier initiated a double courtesy of Stormfly who showed the benefit of a recent outing to take the five furlong maiden for juvenile fillies. Always in the firing line, Stormfly edged ahead at the furlong marker and comfortably held the challenge of Queen Anne by a length and three-parts.
Johnny Murtagh has hit the ground running since retiring from the saddle to concentrate on training and was on hand to greet Urban Moon after the Galileo colt shaded the verdict over John Constable in the mile and two three-year-old 66-83 handicap.
A brother to Telescope, who was a leading fancy for last year’s Derby, Urban Moon showed that he was well forward with a good effort at Leopardstown and built on that with a gutsy display.
Always close to the pace under Niall McCullagh, he hit the front of the home turn but had to withstand a serious examination from John Constable before reaching the wire a nose to the good. Tackling the trip for the first time, the winner showed a likeable attitude, with Murtagh reporting that better ground will see a big improvement in him.