THE current crop of two-year-olds at Ballydoyle look well above average and Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore combined for a four-timer of juvenile winners with Aesop’s Fables and Meditate landing the Group 2 features on the card.
Aesop’s Fables provided O’Brien with his 15th win, and eighth in the last 10 runnings, of the Galileo Irish EBF Futurity Stakes when overcoming an absence of four months to take the seven-furlong test.
The son of No Nay Never, who had not been seen since making a successful debut at Navan in April, had plenty to do as stablemate Hans Andersen asserted over a furlong out.
But the 3/1 chance came home strongly in the final 100 yards to beat that rival by two and a quarter lengths, with the always prominent 5/4 favourite Proud And Regal a neck further back in third.
O’Brien said: “He had a little setback after winning at Navan and was a long time off. He’s a big, strong powerful horse and is built like a sprinter. He travelled well and I was a bit worried going up to seven.
“By running today we have a choice to go to the National Stakes or the Dewhurst. They went a good gallop and he was going to be exposed if he didn’t get the trip. He went to the line well. If he does run in a big one next he’ll be ready for it.”
Meditate makes all
The Alpha Centauri Debutante Stakes was the other Group 2 event on the card and Meditate maintained her unbeaten record by making all under Moore.
The 8/13 favourite was ridden to take control a furlong from home and, while the winning margin was reduced to three-quarters of a length at the line, the outcome was never in doubt.
Olivia Maralda and Thornbrook both kept on nicely to take the minor honours.
“It was her first time over seven but she is so laidback and travels along in second gear. She hits the gates very quick but relaxes and is happy to sit there handy. She gives you only what you ask,” said O’Brien before adding, “The plan was to come here and go for the Moyglare and that is what we are hoping to do. Ryan said that trip was no problem and he felt further would be no problem.”
Hiawatha in command
Hiawatha got the day off to a good start for O’Brien and Moore when making most in the Coolmore Arizona Irish EBF Maiden over a mile. The Camelot full-brother to Luxembourg had filled the runner-up spot on his previous two starts and took command from over a furlong out to beat Fleetfoot by three and a half lengths.
“We thought he’d win his first two runs but he was very babyish and Ryan said he’s still babyish. He’s in the Goffs Million (on September 24th),” said O’Brien of the 5/4 favourite.
Continuous was also given a positive ride by Moore in the Join Racing TV For Just 12 Euro A Month At Racingtv.com Now Irish EBF Maiden, a seven-furlong race for newcomers.
The son of Heart’s Cry also made most and while the strong travelling King Of Scotia looked a threat over a furlong out, the 100/30 favourite kept on strongly to score by a length and a half.
O’Brien said: “Ryan said before he got up on him that the Heart’s Cry horses he knew in Japan all stay well so that’s why he made it.
“I think the mare went over to be covered by Deep Impact but then he had the accident so that’s how it came about. He’s the only Heart’s Cry that we have.
“He could go for the Beresford. That’s over a mile but he is well capable of stepping up.”
KILLENAULE trainer Martin Hassett also had a day to remember when saddling a near 36/1 double with Secret Magician and Harry’s Hill.
Secret Magician, bred and part-owned by Gillian O’Neill in partnership with Hassett’s wife Deirdre, justified good support in the Sheehy Motors Skoda Maiden.
The 100/30 shot, placed twice previously in Curragh maidens, showed good speed from his high draw under Seamie Heffernan and drew clear inside the final furlong to beat Baalbec Beauty by two lengths.
Hassett said: “He ran well in a handicap here the last day and the winner is after coming out since and winning a listed race. He loves the Curragh but I was a bit worried about running him on this ground (good, good to firm in places) but Seamie said run. He might run here in the Bold Lad if he gets in.”
“We don’t do things by halves!” quipped an ebullient Hassett just over an hour later after Harry’s Hill (15/2) quickened clear for Scott McCullagh inside the final furlong to beat 20 rivals impressively in the AK Bets ‘Compare Our Prices To Your Current Bookmaker’ Handicap. Owned by the Tipp Ramblers Partnership, the 15/2 chance was following up a soft-ground win at Tipperary.
“I don’t like running horses on that ground but he was absolutely flying at home. I’ll be going to bed tonight hoping he’s alright in the morning.”
Hassett added: “We have a family-run operation. I go down to the yard at 5.20am every morning and the brother puts two on the walker. We are doing it for this. You can’t beat a winner whether it’s in Thurles on a wet November Thursday or here, but it is special to come up here.
“We have 13 horses at the moment which are a cross over between the flat, National Hunt and point-to-pointers.”
Star overcomes handicap disadvantage
STAR Image, trained by Tom Mullins for his wife Helen, recorded her second win over one mile, four furlongs this term at odds of 9/1 in the Neville O’Byrne Memorial EBF Fillies Handicap.
The daughter of Sea The Stars squeezed through between horses to lead over a furlong out before staying on strongly to beat Kazakdaria by four and a quarter lengths.
The Goresbridge handler was aggrieved that she had to race from 6lb out of the handicap after top-weight Mighty Blue came out of the race too late for the alternative handicap to come into play.
“The handicapper is going to give her a slap now as she was 6lb out. I’d a feeling the top-weight wouldn’t run and I don’t think it’s a fair rule that the weights didn’t go up, but that’s it,” said Mullins.
“Jake Coen told me that Tramore the last day was a stop-start race, but she was in fierce good form all week and I felt we had to run here. I’ve been looking at Jamie Powell all year and put him up to negate the 6lb.
“I don’t think she’s keen on going left-handed and we’ll see what the handicapper does. She could go for the 10-furlong handicap here on Champions Weekend or there is also the Oyster Stakes in Galway.”
Andy Slattery senior and junior teamed up to take the William Fry Neville O’Byrne Tribute Maiden with Smooth Tom, owned and bred by Margaret and Padraig O’Rourke who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
The well-backed 11/8 favourite got on top inside the final furlong to beat Astelia by a length and a quarter.
“I had him in the Northfields (Premier Handicap here on September 11th) and wanted to see would he stay a mile and a quarter. He’s still very raw and I think he’s going to be a very nice four-year-old. He’s honest and consistent but just a little bit backward,” said the winning trainer.