Bocca Baciata bounces back in style in Curragh Group Three

Softer ground helps Jessica Harrington charge in four-length rout of Easter and Brooch

Maybe it's her National Hunt pedigree, but Jessica Harrington could end up swimming against the popular tide by keeping her fingers crossed for a damp "Champions Weekend" in a fortnight after Bocca Baciata's impressive bounce back to form in a Curragh Group three.

For a filly who routed the subsequent Group One winners Pleascach and Diamondsandrubies in April, Bocca Baciata’s season had been an anti-climax up to the Dance Design Stakes, where officially “yielding to soft” ground appeared to help effect a transformation.

Doubled up

The 11-4 favourite routed Easter and Brooch by four lengths, leading jockey

Fran Berry


, who later doubled up on Hint Of A Tint in the Irish Cambridgeshire, to suggest she is back to the level she showed in that ultra- promising Salsabil Stakes victory in the spring.

“I’m delighted she’s back because it’s been a difficult season with her. She likes that ground but I haven’t made any plans. There are an awful lot of good fillies about,” said Harrington, landing a second Group Three of the season at HQ, and who may yet be tempted by the opening race on the Curragh’s “Champions Weekend” fixture, the Group Two Moyglare Blandford Stakes.

“Ten furlongs should suit her but if there were to be anything like ‘firm’ in the ground then she wouldn’t run. She likes that ground,” the Co Kildare-based trainer added. “Later in the year she could stretch out to a mile and a half.”


Since fast going is what much of the industry is praying for ahead of the upcoming €4 million extravaganza – which could see a race of the year prospect between Golden Horn, Gleneagles and Free Eagle in the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes – Harrington’s weather prayers may not be widely echoed, but her mastery of both codes was further advertised with Rockaway Valley’s Round Tower Stakes second to Smash Williams.

The winner, now as low as 16-1 for next year's Guineas, was making it two out of two in just eight days, but trainer Jim Bolger may skip "Champions Weekend", joking: "He's only come on the scene very recently and I'm a slow thinker! I need time to work it out. But I'd say seven [furlongs] wouldn't matter to him."

Aidan O’Brien is desperate for quick going to run Gleneagles at Leopardstown but the champion trainer, already in possession of seven Group One prizes this season, kept his juvenile tally ticking over with a double, headed by Kind Of Magic’s Flame Of Tara Stakes victory.

Séamus Heffernan’s mount beat stable companion, the favourite, How High The Moon, by half a length in the Listed contest, but Joseph O’Brien conjured an unlikely maiden success with Beacon Rock who looked in trouble at half-way but touched off the 25-1 Precious Gold in the final stride.


“He’s obviously very babyish and did well to win it,” O’Brien said. “The two fillies will be lovely for middle distances next year. The second just looked green when she got there.”

Hint Of A Tint has no fancy “Champions Weekend” entries, but she more than earned her keep for owner Sue-Ann Foley, daughter of JP McManus, with a second valuable handicap success of the season in the €100,000 Cambridgeshire.

David Wachman's former pattern performer added to her Topaz Mile victory at Galway, and the McManus racing manager, Frank Berry, said: "They're two nice races to get and David's done a great job in getting her back."

At Cork, former champion jumps jockey Davy Russell sustained a second fractured arm this year after getting unshipped in the parade ring.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column