Fresh from his third Epsom Derby victory, Aidan O’Brien turned out a brace at Navan on Saturday to keep things ticking over nicely.
The Rip Van Wrinkle colt Dick Whittington set the ball rolling for the Ballydoyle maestro with a comfortable success in the opening juvenile maiden over six furlongs.
Considered by many to be an unlucky loser at Naas on his debut, Dick Whittington was subsequently turned over when odds-on at the Curragh but conditions were dreadful that day for man and beast.
A huge improvement was expected by connections and although the Ger Lyons runner Dandyleekie opposed him in the betting market the result was a foregone conclusion long before the finish.
Rider Joseph O’Brien was clearly travelling with a double handful as they hit the two furlong marker. Once he popped the question his mount quickened up impressively, running out a five length winner over Dandyleekie.
The winner is a good advertisement for his freshman sire and looks sure to score at Stakes level.
O’Brien had a double interest when saddling two in the mile and two 66-86 handicap. Joseph’s mount Just Gorgeous was a warm favourite but it was the stable outsider Beyond Brilliance, with Aidan’s daughter Ana in the saddle, that shaded the verdict over the 20/1 chance Shanooan.
Currently sitting her Leaving Cert Ana was in no hurry to commit her mount as she was worried about her getting the trip, but she came with a wet sail in the straight to lead in the dying strides to take the money by a neck.
Having shed her maiden tag at Fairyhouse, the winner was subsequently out of her depth at Listed level. While she had plenty of weight here the jockeys 7lb claim was a vital factor.
She is out of a Darshaan mare, which would suggest that this type of trip is well within her compass. On this evidence she can be placed to further success.
Carrick-on-Suir trainer Pat Flynn has his string in good health but the 25/1 victory by Les Darcy in the extended five furlong 47-60 handicap must have even surprised the trainer himself.
Flynn was double handed in the race, as he also supplied the favourite Little Sweetheart. However, this one ran a shocker and only beat one other horse home.
In contrast Les Darcy, who was slowly away, finished like an express train under 10lb claimer Ian Queally to nail Shinyhappyjohn right on the line and gain the verdict by a nose.
Having shown little as a juvenile Les Darcy strengthened up during the Winter, according connections, and relished the fast conditions. He could easily add to his tally in this type of contest as he is relatively unexposed.
Dermot Weld hasn’t been sending out winners with the same frequency as he was a month or so ago but he still saddled the first two home in the mile and a quarter fillies maiden, with victory going to the highly impressive Carla Bianca.
Having finished second to Australia on her debut as a juvenile, the grey daughter of Dansili subsequently finished a good fourth in the Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes but had been a shade disappointing so far this term.
She was easy to back as punters sided with the O’Brien representative Shell House, but the improved conditions and the longer trip seemed to be right up her alley and she did the business like a very decent filly.
Jockey Pat Smullen always had her close to the pace before sending her to the front after passing the two furlong marker. From there she skipped clear to win very much as she liked by five lengths from stable companion Starlet.
Speaking after the race Weld said that Carla Bianca took longer than expected to come to herself his season. She will now be upped to Stakes level, where she is expected to make her mark.
It must be said that Shell House was a little disappointing. She ran at a decent level as a two-year-old and was reported to be working well, but failed to pick up when asked.
John Oxx has high hopes for Ponfeigh after the Teofilo colt landed what looked like a red hot mile conditions race for three-year-olds.
Having shown his well-being with a victory on his seasonal debut at Leopardstown Ponfeigh edged out Agena for favouritism. In a highly tactical race, the winner took over a furlong or so out and beat the long-time leader Nonchalant by two and three-quarter lengths with Agena half a length further back in third place.
Oxx revealed that his charge has plenty of pace so the tactics of the race were not a huge worry for him. He has no set plans for the horse, but expects him to pay his way for the rest of the Summer.