Dermot Weld scores at Leopardstown with Harzand
Jet Setting beats Aidan O’Brien’s Alice Springs to 1,000 Guineas Trial Stakes
Harzand ridden by Pat Smullen pn the way to victory at Leopardstown. Photograph: PA
Harzand advertised his Classic potential with victory in the P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown.
Despite taking a big rise in grade after landing a Cork maiden on his recent comeback, the Dermot Weld-trained son of Sea The Stars was sent off the 2-1 favourite.
Aidan O’Brien looked like dominating when Beacon Rock and Cook Islands challenged at the top of the straight, before their lesser fancied stablemate Idaho breezed past, but Pat Smullen went in pursuit on Harzand and wore down Idaho to triumph by a length and a quarter.
Smullen said: “He showed a lot of quality there, I was caught for a little bit of speed early on and had to sit and suffer, but when I met the rising ground I never had any doubt I’d get to the horse in front, as he stays very well.
“It was run at a very true pace, there was no hiding place and that brought out the best in our horse.
“I think he is too big and heavy to round Epsom, maybe the Irish Derby but I think he has all the qualities for the Leger at Doncaster. The mile and six at Doncaster would be ideal.”
Earlier Adrian Keatley claimed Group Three honours as Jet Setting made every post a winning one in the Leopardstown 1,000 Guineas Trial Stakes.
Bought out of the Richard Hannon stable for 12,000gns last autumn, the daughter of Fast Company debuted for Keatley with a third in a French Listed race before returning to break her duck at Cork.
This was a big step up for the 11-2 chance, but Shane Foley bounced her out and never looked back as he swung for home with only Now Or Never in close attendance, and Jet Setting bounded clear in the testing conditions to prevail by three lengths.
Favourite Alice Springs was a never-nearer third.
Keatley said: “I’m delighted with that. That was her day in the sun.
“Hopefully she can progress. The ground would want to be soft if we were thinking about the Guineas this side of the water, but we’ll have a very strong look at the German Guineas. It’s bound to be soft there, it usually is.
“Shane said the ground felt like good ground on her today. She’s effective on it.
“She was a good purchase (12,000gns) and it’s job done even if she never wins again.
“It’s my second full season with a licence and they all seem healthy in the new facility. Things are going well.”
Meanwhile Black Sea lunged late to come out on top in a three-way finish to the Leopardstown 2,000 Guineas Trial Stakes.
The pacemaker still held a significant advantage halfway down the straight but soon began to tread water, with his stablemate True Solitaire, the 8-11 favourite, passing him first before being tackled by Stenographer.
Moore came last of all, though, and could not have been in front more than a couple of strides from the line. Stenographer and True Solitaire dead-heated for second.
O’Brien said: “Ryan gave him a great ride. He said he will go on better ground and will get further.
“He won his maiden and then was a bit keen in a Group race here. Ryan decided that he’d try and get him to relax today and plenty of pace suited him.
“Ryan said he’s a horse that will suit America in time. He’ll step up into a trial now going further.”
In the day’s first race Bhutan looked a horse to follow with a striking debut in the Racecourse Of The Year (C & G) Maiden.
The Galileo colt (14-1) swept to the head of affairs a furlong and a half out under Donnacha O’Brien, leading home a one-two for his father Aidan with 9-4 joint-favourite Housesofparliament second in the hands of Ryan Moore.
The pair were nicely clear of the rest, and O’Brien senior said of the grey winner: “He’s been sleeping at home obviously. I liked him as a two-year-old but as we got close to running him he was getting lazier and lazier and we didn’t get to run.
“In his last few bits of work he’s been going nice and respectably. He’s a good looking horse and a well-bred horse.
“He’ll run in one of the trial races next and we’ll see. He could make a lot of progress.
“Ryan liked the second horse.”