KILKENNY-BORN but Fethard-based Joe Murphy was on hand to greet Euphrasia after she caused a major upset when taking the Group Three Blue Wind Stakes over a mile and two at Naas.
Setting off in front, the daughter of Windsor Knot had everything in trouble heading to the final couple of furlongs. She kept up the relentless gallop to see off the challenge of La Collina by a couple of lengths with the disappointing odds on Favourite Princess Highway half a length further back in third place.
In his post-race remarks an elated Murphy revealed that coming up to declaration time he discovered that there were only a few runners in the race. The age old adage of ‘if you’re not in you can’t win’ came into play, so he decided to take on the big guns.
This was a race full of quality as the favourite is a Ribblesdale Stakes winner and La Collina a former winner of the Phoenix Stakes, while the fourth finisher Rehn’s Nest landed this season’s Park Express Stakes.
Feather in cap
This success is a big feather in the cap of Windsor Knot, which stands at John McEnery’s Rossenarra Stud near Kells. A son of Pivotal, Windsor Knot was an impressive winner of the Solario Stakes at Sandown as a juvenile and the Darley Stakes at Newmarket later in his career.
He is getting a steady stream of winners, including the highly exciting Our Conor which was a runaway winner of the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham and is now among the fancied candidates for next season’s Champion Hurdle.
Jim Bolger rewarded his followers by capturing the opening two-year-old fillies maiden courtesy of Heart Focus. The winner battled well to see off the challenge of the Aidan O’Brien runner Bye Bye Birdie.
After finishing third at Leopardstown three days earlier it was unusual to see the trainer pulling her out again so soon - this was her third outing in less than two weeks - but she was obviously giving the right vibes at home. Although always in the firing line, Heart Focus had to be kept up to her work by Kevin Manning before hitting the wire half a length to the good.
A tough daughter of Intense Focus, the winner is bred to get further than this six furlong trip. It will be interesting to see what road she will go on from here.
Aidan O’Brien got his name on the scoresheet later in the evening when Hanky Panky justified good support to land the mile maiden for three-year-old fillies. Settled off the pace, the Galileo filly was sporting a hood to help her concentration, but came from mid-division to score an extended length success over Nabat Sultan.
A half sister to none other than Giant’s Causeway, the winner had been placed in two of her four previous outings. She will now be asked to compete at Listed level.
Tommy Stack is best remembered for partnering Red Rum to the third of his Grand National victories but he has proven to be a very successful trainer since hanging up his riding boots.
Very few of his charges win unnoticed and the same could be said of Snakes And Ladders, who landed the mile 47-64 handicap in a blanket finish under Wayne Lordan.
Settled off the pace, Snakes And Ladders came with a tremendous rattle in the straight to get his head in front on the line and beat Las Encinas by a head. There was a similar distance back to the third finisher Indy Gal who, in turn, was just a neck ahead of Stephen Hero.
This was a good display by the winner. He had to endure traffic problems, but showed a great attitude when asked for more at the vital stage.
Trainer Tom Hogan, who is enjoying his time in the limelight with his stable star Gordon Lord Byron, showed that he has the rest of his string in good shape. Hogan backed up the claim when saddling Great Ability to take the seven furlong 47-70 apprentice handicap under a polished ride from Katherine O’Brien.
Owned and bred by Anthony Deegan, the four-year-old was opening his account but showed that he was close to winning with a brave effort at Cork less than a week earlier. Settled off the pace, Great Ability made smooth headway to lead a furlong or so out and hold the persistent challenge of Enough is Enough by half a length. This was the second victory for Kerry-born Katherine O’Brien in the space of a week - an impressive feat after spending a year and a half without a victory. She had just finished her final studied in Sports and Exercise Science at the University of Limerick and rides out for the Hogan yard most mornings.
Enough Is Enough looked like she was going to give Dunbell handler Pat Meaney a surprise victory inside the two furlong marker. Her best run of the season, she must be close to the winners enclosure.
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