Grey Swallow sets sights on classics


RACING: Even the old American hack whose advice to younger colleagues consisted of "nothing on this beat justifies a superlative" might have turned giddyish watching Grey Swallow at Leopardstown yesterday.

An eight-length defeat of Newton in the Group Three Killavullan Stakes, in a time almost two seconds faster than the following handicap, would have satisfied the statisticians. But the manner of it had the rest of us dreaming of next year's classics.

Pat Smullen only had to show Grey Swallow the whip for the colt to dash clear in a display that screamed Group One potential.

"I've never ridden a two-year-old like him," admitted Smullen which is no bad compliment considering he rode this year's Guineas winner Refuse To Bend. "He won his maiden by 10, a Group Three by eight, so potentially he has to be top class."

Dermot Weld is another who takes some impressing but even he was hard pushed to contain his enthusiasm for a colt who is now as low as 7 to 1 with Paddy Power for the 2,000 Guineas.

"He's a lovely horse, a class act who has always shown extreme talent," Weld beamed. "For me this was the most important race of the weekend, even more so than France or America." The trainer reported that his Grade One winner Dimitrova will remain in the US to be trained by Neil Drysdale while Refuse To Bend has joined Godolphin.

Vinnie Roe's run in the French Leger Weld was put down to the ground and a hard race in the Arc but the fact that he rated Grey Swallow's race more significant than such established stars speaks volumes.

"This was a logical place to come. We wanted to run in the Dewhurst, which he probably would have won, but the ground was firm and looking ahead to the classic trials a Group One penalty can be a problem.

"I can see him getting a mile next year, probably a mile and a quarter. But he is a beautiful horse to look forward to. I imagine he will run in a trial before going for the Guineas," Weld added.

Johnny Murtagh, who last rode nine days ago, has decided not to ride for the rest of this season.

"He feels he needs a break. His weight is an issue and it has been difficult for him this year. It takes very little to shove his weight up over 9st," said John Oxx after saddling Lady's View to win the opener.

Cathy Gannon took over on that winner to narrow the gap to Pat Cosgrave in the apprentice table to two and Murtagh's regular mount, Livadiya, was another missed winner in the Trigo Stakes.

Michael Kinane took over to guide the mare to an easy six-length victory over Royal Devotion. Kinane was favourite to move to 96 winners for the season on Marigold in the Elmwood Handicap but endured a nightmare run in the straight and wound up unplaced behind Irish Legend.

Yesterday's attendance was up 430 on last year's 3,593 figure, while the Tote handled €155,401 (€20,152 more than last year) and the bookmakers €1,043,358 (an increase of €628,081).

Meanwhile, Weld confirmed Vinnie Roe is to stay in training next year. Weld believes the horse had not got over his exertions in finishing an excellent fifth to Dalakhani in the Arc.

"In hindsight it probably came a bit quick after the Arc. He stays in training and he'll have a full campaign next season, starting earlier."