Rest of the Curragh
ABOVE The Curve once again showed her Group 1 quality as she returned from 105 days off the track to land the Group 2 Moyglare Jewels Blandford Stakes which looks to have booked her trip to Paris early next month.
On her first start since landing a top level success in the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary, the daughter of American Pharoah appeared to face her stiffest task to date in a strong edition of this contest but she came through this test with flying colours.
Ryan Moore was on board the 5/1 chance who had to fight every step of the way in the straight.
She first got the better of last year’s winner La Petite Coco and just when it seemed Insinuendo had been delivered with a brilliantly-timed effort to pounce inside the distance, Above The Curve plumbed the depths to find more and prevail by a neck with Galleria Borghese completing the placings with a fine effort in third.
“It was a fantastic ride from Ryan. It was her first run back from a layoff and I thought she’d come on for this run,” commented Joseph O’Brien.
“She’s a classy filly and her attitude really showed, when the going got tough she really put her head out and fought all the way to the line. The plan was that this would more than likely be a good stepping stone for the Prix de l’Opera.”
A 50/1 shock was lying in wait in the opener as sprint king Eddie Lynam pulled yet another rabbit out of the hat in the shape of Dexter Belle in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Bold Lad Sprint Handicap.
On her third start for Lynam after relocating from Kevin Ryan, the Clipper Logistics-owned four-year-old provided jockey Andy Slattery with a chance spare of rare quality.
Hollie Doyle had been due to ride the daughter of Ajaya but the rescheduling of Doncaster to Sunday meant that she journeyed back across the Irish Sea to leave Slattery to pick up the mount.
From some way out Dexter Belle was ideally placed behind the eventual second and third, No More Porter and Mr Wagyu but she did have to switch left at a vital stage.
Dexter Belle still had time to gather herself though and finished strongly to nail No More Porter in the final yards to get home by a neck with Mr Wagyu the same distance away in third.
“I loved her when I got her and thought she was well handicapped,” Lynam said. “She ran okay here on Guineas Weekend but ran terrible next time although my horses were out of form at the time. She was in good form today though.”
Eve strikes gold
In a race her father, Fulke, won with Tout Seul and Beaver Patrol in 2002 and 2004, Eve Johnson Houghton captured the latest edition of €300,000 Tattersalls Ireland Super Auction Sale Stakes with the unbeaten Streets Of Gold as the British contingent dominated with a one-two-three.
A £27,000 purchase as a yearling by his trainer and Highflyer Bloodstock, the 101-rated Streets Of Gold lined up with rock solid credentials as he had won all three of his starts and he was returned the 11/8 favourite under Charles Bishop.
In a race where not that many got meaningfully involved, Streets Of Gold was sent to the front by Charles Bishop nearing the final furlong.
He did start to wander around a little after taking the lead but he retained control in the closing stages to defeat compatriot Tostado by a length.
“I thought he’d a favourite’s chance but I wasn’t sure about the ground and Charles said he hated it,” stated the trainer who was notching up her second victory at an Irish Champions Weekend.
“He’s in the Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury but he’s had a hard enough race today and had to work for it so we’ll see how he comes out of this.”
Blaze of glory
Johnny Murtagh ended the two day fixture in a blaze of glory as he saddled an incredible one-two-three in the €150,000 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Northfields Handicap where the Aga Khan-owned Kerkiyra (11/1) credited apprentice Jamie Powell with yet another big handicap success.
Early in the straight, the eye was drawn to Murtagh’s Flying Dolphin but the smooth travelling Kerkiyra looked to have everything covered when she eased to the front well over a furlong out.
Over the course of the last furlong, the daughter of Siyouni stuck to her task splendidly to see off Safecracker by a length and a half.
“The three horses were going very well at home and I thought the winner was well handicapped claiming 7lb off her. The last day she didn’t stay over a mile and a half and the soft ground was a help today,” commented Murtagh.
“Safecracker ran a good race and Flying Dolphin is coming back, he got a bit stiff and sore after Ascot and it might have been a bit quick. It couldn’t have worked out any better.”