The father and son team of Tony and Danny Mullins were on the mark at Tipp when Erlkonig ran out a most impressive winner on Thursday.
Having shown plenty of promise in a 14-runner maiden hurdle at Kilbeggan on his Irish debut, the German-bred horse was a well-backed favourite in the two mile maiden hurdle.
He got a flyer at the start, stealing close to 10 lengths on his rivals. He never relinquished the lead, coming home an impressive seven-length winner from Cassells Rock with McKinley a further five and a half lengths back in third place.
While the bare form of the race is difficult to assess the winner did his job well and found plenty when the pack began to close turning to face the judge.
At this point Irish Bulletin looked the main danger, but shot rider Mark Walsh out of the saddle at the final flight, meaning place money was as good as he was going to get.
A handy animal, the winner’s jumping was fast and accurate which augurs well for the future. He seemed to enjoy the fast conditions and it will be interesting to see what kind of handicap mark he receives. On this evidence he will be back in the winners enclosure again before the Summer is out.
Dessie Hughes has high hopes for Phil’s Magic, who ran out a workmanlike winner of the bumper under a polished ride from Aine O’Connor.
An unfancied second over hurdles at Kilbeggan on his debut, the Fruits of Love gelding was beaten by half a length when favourite for a Killarney bumper, but recovered losses here with a game display.
Always travelling well, Phil’s Magic challenged Lady In Motion at the furlong marker and, after a good scrap, edged ahead in the final strides to land the spoils by half a length.
Speaking after the race Hughes said that his charge jumps hurdles like a handicapper. He was anxious to win a bumper with him, adding that a hurdling career beckons after a Summer at grass.
Big Generation caused a 16/1 upset when getting the better of Fethard Player in the two mile and four handicap hurdle in the hands of Robbie Power.
Owned by Wexford stud owner Jim Mernagh and trained by his neighbour Paul Nolan, the eight-year-old set off in front but was headed at the halfway point, but battled well to beat Fethard Played by half a length with the favourite Marshim a similar distance away in third place.
Described by Nolan as a fun horse, Big Generation was winning the third race of his career. Connections are planning a quick follow-up at this weeks Wexford meeting.
Racing opened with an impressive victory for Anthem Alexandra in the five furlong maiden for two-year-olds. The daughter of Starsbangledbanner encountered traffic problems on her Curragh debut and while there seemed to be plenty of confidence behind the Aidan O’Brien runner Battle Of Marathon connections of Anthem Alexandra were also quietly confident.
Travelling sweetly, Alexandra changed gears at the furlong marker and drew right away to win unchallenged by seven lengths from Puck Fair.
The winner is owned by hotelier Noel O’Callaghan, who also runs a racing and breeding enterprise under the Mountarmstrong Stud banner.
Racing and breeding is in O’Callaghan’s blood as he is the brother of Tony and Gay, who run stallion farms in Kildare and Westmeath. Plans are fluid for Anthem Alexandra, however trainer Eddie Lynam is anxious to have a tilt at the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot if the owner agrees. Since O’Callaghan has already a smart juvenile filly in training across the water a clash is unlikely.
The Epsom Derby is turning out to be something of a benefit for Aidan O’Brien and the Coolmore team. He recorded his fifth success in the race and his third in as many years when Australia justified favouritism under the trainer’s son Joseph on Saturday.
Two years ago this combination became the first father and son team to win the Classic in its 250-year history and now they have done it again.
If this was not enough, the Coolmore people won the race for the sixth time in their history and the fourth in succession as they owned Pour Moi, who landed the race in 2011 but was trained in France.
When history comes to be written the achievements of O’Brien and Coolmore will be seen in their true context. They have revolutionised breeding and training methods, becoming the biggest bloodstock concern on the planet.
The old adage of breed the best to be the best and hope for the best is certainly true in the case of Australia, who is by the 2001 Derby winner Galileo and out of the 2004 Oaks winner Ouija Board who also listed the Irish Oaks and a couple of victories at the Breeders Cup meeting among her seven Grade One successes.
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