GEAR Up (100+) led home a Joseph O’Brien one-two in the Group 3 Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown last Thursday week with the trainer no doubt equally as pleased with runner-up and recent stable recruit Cleveland (100+) who is now qualified for the Melbourne Cup.

Dylan Brown McMonagle positioned Gear Up close to the pace set by Sandhurst which ultimately proved decisive in the winning of the race as Cleveland was much stronger through the closing stages of the slowly run affair.

The winner covered the ground from the three-furlong marker in 37.42secs in comparison to the second who stopped the clock at 37.07secs for his closing effort.

Cleveland is a staying horse with his fair share of speed although the data also portrays the winner to have picked up quicker when the colts were asked for their finishing effort.

Tactics switch

Gear Up has now won two of his last three starts with a switch in tactics to racing more prominently the main factor in the improved form.

The son of Teofilo is effective over various middle-distance trips although I believe he has reached the ceiling of his ability at this level.

Cleveland was dropping in trip again having won the Chester Cup over an extended two miles and finished second at Ascot to subsequent winner Get Shirty over one mile and six furlongs.

If making the trip down under, the son of Camelot will find the two-mile trip very much to his liking, while the subsequent exploits of Coltrane, who was second at Chester, would put the four-year-old amongst the upper echelons of northern hemisphere stayers.

Although Beamish (96) lost his unbeaten record on his first foray into group company, Paddy Twomey’s colt will be seen to better effect when either racing over further or encountering softer ground.

Mads looks strong

The strongest race of the evening when considering the grade and combining the overall race time and closing sectionals went the way of Mads Black Eights (90+) who continued the good run of resurgent trainer Matthew Smith.

Declan McDonagh found himself with just two rivals behind at the entrance to the home straight, before a sweeping run down the outside of the field delivered a closing sectional of 37.63secs and a going away one-and-three-quarter-length victory. The six-year-old mare could well win again while her stable continues in a rich vein of form.

Reverberation (88) came from a similar position to the winner although Colin Keane steered a path to the inside and this represented another solid course and distance run from the son of Excelebration.

I would also highlight the good run of the Charles O’Brien version of Sierra Nevada (86) who stayed on steadily from the rear on his handicap debut.

Focus Required (89) came from as far back as Mads Black Eights to win the second division of the handicap in a marginally faster time figure. However, a closing sectional of 38.58secs would point to there being more upside to the division one winner.

Fast Bronson

The fastest closing sectional of the evening was posted by debutant maiden winner Bingo Bronson (89+).

The son of Gleneagles travelled with purpose throughout the one-mile-and-one-furlong contest and was well placed to challenge passing the three-furlong marker.

In covering the ground to the line in 37.27secs, the three-year-old left the impression he could have run much quicker as Colin Keane only asked him to extend as the furlong pole came into view.

Ger Lyons was keen to say we would not see the best of the gelding until next season.

Dancila battles

Dancila (86) was a battling winner of the 10-furlong handicap, posting a closing sectional of 37.43secs off a slow pace, narrowly denying the fast-finishing Safecracker (86) who covered the sectional in 36.81secs.

However, as Johnny Murtagh’s gelding possesses only one all-weather win to his name, the sectional has to be balanced against the slow gallop.

Elsewhere on the card, Cedar Rapids (75) posted the slowest time figure of the evening when making it 16th time lucky, stopping the clock for his sectional at 37.92secs.

Sunset Nova (78) was only marginally quicker overall, posting a slow closing sectional, although not as slow as Rich Belief (80) who won the finale.


Anmaat (121+), Haydock, Saturday, August 6th – proved more than equal to the strong pace to win decisively. A strong travelling versatile colt who can step up in grade again.

Jungle Cove (100+), Ascot, Saturday, August 6th – added a big-time figure to his previously quick sectionals, winning with plenty in hand.

Atacama Desert (92+), Haydock, Friday, August 5th – off the mark at third time of asking on turf and looks the type to progress further, while being well supported in the market.