JUST under 12 months ago Noel Meade ended his career long quest for an initial Group 1 triumph on the flat and he might just be on the cusp of another as Layfayette’s stunning rise up the ranks continued in the Group 2 Coolmore Irish EBF Mooresbridge Stakes.
After starting his season with wins in the Devoy and Alleged Stakes, the Patricia Hunt-owned five-year-old looked a leading candidate for his latest 10-furlong assignment and he rose to his latest challenge in typically straight-forward and willing fashion.
Chris Hayes adopted the waiting tactics that work so well on this gelding before Layfayette (3/1) cruised up to join the leaders around two furlongs from home.
Even at this stage the son of French Navy appeared to have everything covered and he always looked to be doing enough to hold old rival Bear Story who chased him home in last month’s Alleged.
At the line Layfayette had three-parts of a length to spare while the former Beresford Stakes winner and favourite High Definition had to settle for fourth.
“The way the ground had gone (yielding) I was wondering if we coming here with the wrong horse with Helvic Dream at home but the winner was fantastic and at no stage of the race did he look to be in trouble,” remarked Meade.
“Unfortunately I haven’t got him in the Tattersalls Gold Cup or the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot but he’s in the Hardwicke. It’s a lot of money to put him in the Tattersalls Gold Cup but we can decide closer to the time.”
Andy Slattery’s Independent Expert (12/1) took her tally to two wins from just five career starts in the Tracy Group Irish EBF Fillies Handicap over seven furlongs.
After running a fine fourth in a Cork handicap a month previously, the Kevin Sean and Tommy Walsh Partnership took a step forward to give apprentice Cian Horgan his second success of the season.
The daughter of Gutaifan showed a cracking attitude here as she raced on the pace, led around a quarter of a mile out, then lost the lead before rallying well to regain the initiative late on and hold off the oncoming Tawny Coster by a head.
After going off a strongly supported 100/30 favourite for the 23-runner Keadeen Hotel Handicap over six furlongs, the Eddie and Patrick Harty-trained Midnight Fire duly rewarded his supporters to record the third success of his career.
The five-year-old was fitted with first time cheek-pieces as he looked to build on a good third to Mutasarref at Leopardstown last month and he responded to Declan McDonogh’s promptings to get the better of the game front runner Elanora by three-parts of a length.
JOSEPH O’Brien has an especially strong contender for Irish 2000 Guineas glory in Buckaroo who impressed in the Listed Coolmore Irish EBF Tetrarch Stakes.
A narrow defeat in the Ballysax Stakes on his return to action last month suggested that this Qatar Racing-owned son of Fastnet Rock could be heading down the Derby route but his trainer’s decision to bring him back to a mile looks inspired.
Buckaroo and Shane Crosse cruised through this race and from fully two furlongs out there was only going to be one winner of what looked a notably strong edition of this race.
When Buckaroo was asked to assert the response was impressive from the 15/8 favourite who reached the line four lengths ahead of the Navan maiden winner Wexford Native.
Over the last quarter of a century only Desert King and Awtaad have managed to complete the Tetrarch-Irish 2000 Guineas double but this colt looks well equipped to follow suit.
“He has been showing plenty of pace at home so we had a chat with the team and they were happy to come here and see whether he was an Irish Guineas horse,” reflected O’Brien.
“He was working with more speed than I gave him credit for previously. In my mind I had it that he was a 10-furlong horse with no problem going 12-furlongs but I’d say he’s a miler with no problem going 10 furlongs.”
A memorable May bank holiday weekend for Joseph O’Brien and Shane Crosse got even better as Twilight Spinner (2/1) bagged the Group 3 Coolmore Circus Maximus EBF Athasi Stakes.
A listed winner in England last season, the Scott Heider-owned filly had been placed at Group 3 and listed level on her first two starts for O’Brien and she took a step forward to register a commanding success in this seven-furlong contest.
After travelling smoothly throughout, the four-year-old breezed past the pace setting Cigamia inside the last furlong and she went on to score by three and a quarter lengths.
“It was a good performance. She has been shaping as though she was crying out to go up to seven furlongs,” observed O’Brien. “We could look at something like the Prix Maurice de Gheest or the Prix de la Foret later in the year.”
Blackbeard draws first blood to Ballydoyle in juvenile listed success
THE first juvenile stakes race of the season went to Aidan O’Brien as the Dundalk maiden winner Blackbeard successfully transitioned to listed company after coming out the right side of a terrific tussle with the Cork scorer Crispy Cat in the GAIN First Flier Stakes.
The last-named produced a really likeable display from the front and had Blackbeard (11/10) and Ryan Moore hard at work approaching the final furlong.
To his credit though, the Ballydoyle colt raised his game under pressure to force a bobbing finish which went his way by a short-head.
“The ground was a bit softer than we thought it would be for him and Ryan said we could go up to six furlongs with him if we wanted which is a good sign,” remarked O’Brien.
“He’s had two runs now so he wouldn’t need another run before Ascot.”
Twelve months ago the two-year-old maiden on this card was won by the subsequent Royal Ascot heroine Quick Suzy and there was another smart type on show this year as the Kieran Cotter-trained newcomer Matilda Picotte (8/1) bolted up in the Irish EBF Median Sires Series Maiden over six furlongs.
The daughter of freshman sire Sioux Nation was fitted with cheek-pieces for her debut and produced an impressive trail-blazing effort under Declan McDonogh to defeat fellow newcomer Comhra by two lengths.
“She’d been showing loads of pace at home and stamina too which is what good horses usually have. All being well we’ll hopefully be back here for the Marble Hill,” reported Kieran Cotter whose charge carries the colours of the Matilda & Kilmichael Racing Partnership.
“We ride her out in cheek-pieces and find she just concentrates on the job more, she could have run without them Declan said she’s definitely a stakes filly and that she has loads of boot.”
It was a day to savour for jockey Sean Bird as the apprentice bagged an overdue and thoroughly well-deserved first success of his career aboard the Gerry Keane-trained Ginsburg in the P.G. Duffy & Sons Apprentice Handicap over the seven furlongs.
A four-year-old half-sister to Matilda Picotte, this nine-race maiden asserted in good style over the last furlong and a half to finish three and a quarter lengths ahead of River Derwent. The 28/1 shot is owned by the Ballycat Syndicate.