O'Brien enjoys heavenly weekend

 

Racing: Halfway To Heaven capped a weekend to remember for Aidan O'Brien when securing a thrilling renewal of the Irish 1000 Guineas at the Curragh.

O'Brien saddled Henrythenavigator to land the 2000 Guineas on Saturday and had further cause for celebration as Seamus Heffernan brought the 13-2 chance home in front.

In a tight finish, Halfway To Heaven found just enough to repel 66-1 outsider Tuscan Evening, with 7-1 chance Mad About You close behind in third.

The winner was prominent throughout under Heffernan but the well-fancied pair of Nahoodh and Saoirse Abu looked to be travelling within themselves with just over two furlongs to run.

However, neither found much for pressure as Halfway To Heaven upped the tempo.

Mad About You then arrived on the scene and appeared to be readying a race-winning challenge at the one-furlong pole.

Tuscan Evening also hit top gear on the outside at this point but Halfway To Heaven proved very tough when push came to shove and refused to concede the lead, pulling out more when pressed on the far rail.

Her advantage was definitely being eroded close home by the runner-up — who drifted right under pressure — but Heffernan had kept just enough up his sleeve to secure a head success.

After passing the post, the stewards were quick to call an inquiry that did not affect the winner.

Earlier today, Duke Of Marmalade secured a second successive Group One prize when fighting off the challenge of Finsceal Beo in the Tattersalls Gold Cup.

O'Brien's 1-3 favourite looked in trouble as the Bolger-trained runner-up moved smoothly onto his shoulder with just over a furlong to run.

But Johnny Murtagh conjured a renewed effort from Duke Of Marmalade, who responded to his urgings and maintained the gallop to stride a length and a quarter clear at the line.

O'Brien said: "He's a solid horse. He is very tough and consistent and I'm delighted with him. He's one of those special types and all he wants is a nice, even pace. He got that today.

"Johnny said there was a strong headwind out there and the horse only gives what you require. He came forward for his run in France and we'll hopefully go to Royal Ascot for the Prince Of Wales's now."