Heavens Gate opens the door to Ascot with Curragh win

Heavens Gate earned herself a place on Aidan O’Brien’s Royal Ascot squad with victory in opening race on Irish 1,000 Guineas day at the Curragh.

A narrowly beaten second her racecourse debut at Navan three weeks ago, the daughter of Churchill was a 2-1 shot to go one better in Trainor Stone And Tile Irish EBF Fillies Maiden.

Ryan Moore’s mount travelled well throughout and picked up smartly to pull two and a half lengths clear of stablemate January, who also looks a winner in waiting judged on this promising introductory effort.

Of Heavens Gate, O’Brien said: “We think she’s an Albany filly. She came forward from Navan, which Ryan thought she would. She’s a good, smart filly.

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“She’s a powerful filly. Her dam is 22 and hadn’t bred a good one until now. Churchill is obviously a decent stallion.”

Zaynab lunged late to claim top honours in the QuinnBet Spring Fillies Handicap for trainer Gordon Elliott and jockey Declan McDonogh.

A short-head winner on her most recent visit to the track last month, the 17-2 chance finished with a flourish to follow up, defeating 9-2 favourite Flight Of Fancy by a head.

“She’s a nice filly and is progressing well. Obviously we bought her because she is a half-sister to Zanahiyr,” said Elliott’s representative Aidan ‘Mouse’ O’Ryan.

“She’s coming along steady, is tough and put her head down when needed today. We stepped her up in class to see where we were really.

“We bought her as a yearling to be a juvenile hurdler, but we might have to redirect her now – we’ll probably have a look at the Sandringham now in Royal Ascot.”

Hanalia was an 11-2 winner of the Revamp Conservation And Restoration Irish European Breeders Fund Fillies Maiden for Johnny Murtagh and Ben Coen, beating O’Brien’s 2-1 favourite Lily Hart by a length and a quarter.

Murtagh said: “She ran really well in Gowran (finished fourth on debut) and I was worried about the ground, but Ben said the Gowran ground was a lot worse than today. She got through it well.

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“She’s not a slow filly. He said they didn’t go quick and he loved the way she travelled into the race. She quickened up and hit the line well.

“The Oaks Trial at Naas could be a possibility for her.”

The concluding Fleetwood Paints Handicap went to the Ger Lyons-trained Fairytale Princess (20-1), who won in good style under Gary Carroll.

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