Saturday and Sunday saw the Irish Classic season get underway at the Curragh where on the opening afternoon Magician gave Aidan O’Brien his 9th success in the 2000 Guineas and his 29th Irish Classic victory since taking over the reins at Ballydoyle, writes Ned Tierney.
Not having a very auspicious 2-year-old career the son of Galileo did not appear on the radar until he scored a useful looking success in the Dee Stakes at Chester over a Mile and two and then it looked as though his future was over middle distances.
O’Brien’s main Irish Guineas hope Cristoforo Colombo was not working as well as Magician so the decision was taken to drop the latter back in trip.
Once rider Joseph O’Brien announced that this was going to be his mount a flood of money saw his odds contract significantly. He want to post second favourite.
Jim Bolger’s representative Trading Leather, which was second in the Dante, set a scorching pace and was all of five lengths clear heading to the two furlong marker. Rider Kevin Manning was beginning to send out distress signals.
At this point Joseph O’Brien had hardly moved aboard Magician and once he popped the question the bay colt picked up well to see off the leader before going on to land the spoils by three and a half lengths from his stable companion Gale Force Ten.
Trading Leather was a further length and a half back in third place.
This was as impressive a display as one could wish to see. For many of the purist it was not vintage fare for the first Classic of the season and it will be interesting to see how the winner progresses.
To challenge Dawn Approach?
In his post race remarks part owner John Magnier revealed that it was not outside the bounds of possibility that Magician could be pulled out again this coming Saturday to Challenge the Bolger trainer favourite, Dawn Approach in the Derby at Epsom.
The suggestion raised eyebrows and was not a vote of confidence in Battle Of Marengo, which was thought to be leading O’Brien’s contenders at the famous Surrey circuit. Time alone will give us the answer to this question.
However, Bolger remains unconcerned about the opposition and has every confidence that Dawn Approach is capable of giving him his second victory in the race.
There was a major upset in the opening six furlong maiden for 2-year-old fillies when Glassatura swooped late under Shane Foley to touch off the O’Brien trained odds on favourite Bye Bye Birdie.
The latter was expected to improve on her debut second place finish at Naas, but after leading for most of the six furlong journey had no answer when Glassatura ranged up along side in the dying strides and went under by a neck. Winning handler Mick Halford told me that this is a very smart filly and had been working well at home.
She has come to hand quickly and could go on to better things.
Waterford born Tom Queally made a winning return to his homeland when partnering Chigun to a facile success in the Group3 race for fillies and mares over a mile. A good money spinner for connections, the daughter of Oasis Dream ran free early on and was being niggled along before the straight. She showed a likable attitude when push came to shove and hit the front well inside the last furlong to win going away by two and threequarter lengths from La Collina.
Queally has struck up a tremendous partnership with winning trainer Sir Henry Cecil and the pairs exploits with Frankel are legendary. Cecil, who has been battling stomach cancer for several years, was not in attendance but the rider told me that the mare is progressing nicely. Royal Ascot is now the plan.
Just The Judge put her narrow defeat in the English equilevant behind her to land the Irish 1000 guineas if fine style from the 40/1 Jim Bolger trained Rhen’s Nest at Sunday’s concluding session.
In giving English trainer Charlie Hills his first Classic victory Just The Judge was also her sire Lawman which stands at Ballylinch Stud near Thomastown his initial Classic. A strongly supported favourite Just The Judge was always close to the leaders.
She threw down her challenge inside the two furlong marker and ran all the way to the line where she had a length and a half to spare over the staying Rhen’s Rest. This victory was ample compensation for her Newmarket defeat.
She will now have the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot as her next objective.
Those looking for a likely candidate for the Irish Oaks will no doubt have noted the display of Rhen’s Nest. By the Derby winner Authorised and out of a Galileo mare she was doing her best work in the last furlong and will not be at such generous odds when the Oaks comes around.
Came up short
Last season’s dual Derby winner Camelot was at short odds to take the Grade1 Tattersalls Gold Cup but he came up short and had to be content with second place behind Al Kazeem.
After suffering a pelvic injury over a year ago the latter had to spend time on the easy list. However, he produced a tremendous turn of foot to sail by Camelot in the closing stages.
Provided he remains sound the Prix Del Arc is the race connection would like most to win. On this evidence he looks well up to the challenge.