The Aidan O’Brien-trained War Command redeemed his reputation with an impressive win at the Curragh on Saturday.
A stylish winner of the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, after which he was promoted to favourite for next season’s 2000 Guineas, the son of War Front fell from grace when finishing only third behind Sudirman in the Phoenix Stakes at the venue a coupe of weeks earlier.
Word from the trenches suggested that he was below par on that occasion and punters heeded this advice because he was backed almost to the exclusion of everything else. Given a patient ride by the trainer’s son Joseph, War Command was settled towards the rear of the field but made smooth progress to be in contention with a couple of furlongs to race.
At this point the English runner Atlantic Affair took over but as soon as Joseph popped the question War Command settled the issue in a matter of strides to win by three lengths. The purists will argue that it was not a vintage renewal of this seven furlong contest, however the winner could only beat what was in front of him and this he did with plenty in hand.
Although the bookies tightened his odds for the first Classic next term the jury must remain out until the colt’s next appearance, which is likely to be the National Stakes. He saw out the seven furlong trip well and connections are confident that a mile or so is well within his compass.
This was the second leg of a double for O’Brien as he turned out Terrific to run out a workmanlike winner of the opening two-year-old fillies race over seven furlongs. Having finished last at the venue on her debut she showed vast improvement once fitted with blinkers.
This was a good betting race with plenty of money for Jim Bolger’s Peony Fairy and Enterprising from the Dermot Weld yard the pair never featured as Terrific popped smartly out of stalls. She was soon at the head of affairs and quickened up to win comfortably by two lengths. Describing his charge as a hardy lady, O’Brien intimated that a Group race is now very much on the agenda.
David Wachman is enjoying a tremendous season and in Come To Heel he has a filly that could well earn Group brackets before the season ends. A winner at Cork on her debut, the daughter of Einadim took the step up to Listed company in her stride in this five furlong contest for two-year-olds. Although Pat Smullen and Hurryupharriet attempted to make every post a winning one, Wayne Lordan and Come To Heel swooped late to take the money by a cheeky half length.
In his post race remarks Wachman revealed that this is a nice but still very raw filly, who is likely to contest the Cheveley Park Stakes late next month.
Smullen had plenty of compensation when he partnered Vallado to victory in the valuable extended six furlong sales race for juveniles. A smart winner at Leopardstown, the daughter of Clodovil chased the leaders early on before taking the lead a furlong out, running on to nab the spoils by two and a half lengths.
Winning trainer Eddie Lynam spoke of how this is a more than useful filly. She will have an entry for the Blenhelm Stakes and the CL Weld Stakes, with a decision to be taken nearer the time.
Trainer-cum-jockey Johnny Murtagh is fine tuning Royal Diamond for another crack at the Irish St Leger, a race that he won last year. If his display when winning the mile and six Group Three is anything to go by he will not relinquish his crown easily.
Setting of in front the son of King’s Best came under strong pressure two furlongs out, but battled manfully to see off the challenge of Voleuse de Coeurs by half a length with the odds-on favourite Ernest Hemingway five and a half lengths further back in third place.
Out of the Ribblesdale Stakes winner Irresistible Jewel the seven-year-old has been a great servant to connections. He seems to come to himself this time of year and Murtagh is toying with the idea of having a tilt at the Melbourne Cup later in the year.
English-trained horses dominated the finish of the Group Three Flying Five with Dutch Masterpiece just edging out the favourite Hamza by half a length, while Jessica Harrington supplied the winner of the Apprentice handicap in the shape of Polished Rock. A son of Rock of Gibraltar he underwent a wind operation after running at Gowran Park. The future is uncertain, but he could go juvenile hurdling later in the year.