They were peerless at Newmarket, but at the Curragh both Galileo Gold and Minding played second fiddle in the rain softened turf.
On Saturday the 2000 Guineas winner was sent off a short-priced favourite for the Irish equivalent. But despite battling on bravely all the way to the line, Hugo Palmer’s colt never looked like catching the well fancied Awtaad, trained by Kevin Prendergast. The winner is a sizeable unit by Cape Cross out of a Shamardal mare, and it’s probably fair to say that he was slightly favoured by conditions. That said, he was mightily impressive, and will take some beating as the season evolves.
Dettori was niggling away at the favourite inside the three-furlong marker, whilst Chris Hayes, motionless on top, swept to the lead entering the two, and only then asked Awtaad to put the race to bed. Just for a moment inside the final furlong, Dettori appeared to be galvanising the favourite for one final effort, but it proved fruitless, with the winner galloping on relentlessly.
He was completing a hat-trick of wins for the season, and all of those coming on testing ground. Angus Gold, racing manager for owner Hamdan Al Maktoum, said of the winner’s next target: “I think it would be hard to give up the chance of the St James's Palace Stakes by jumping him up half-a-mile. He's calm and relaxed and on pedigree will go further than a mile. But he has the speed for a mile. He beat the English Guineas winner and the other top milers at the Curragh and would be a wonderful stallion prospect if he won the St James's Palace against the best ones around.”
Likely to be run on a sounder surface, the Royal Ascot event is set to see three guineas winners clash. Awtaad, Galileo Gold and The Gurkha, all in the same race, is a mouth-watering prospect. They have been the outstanding three-year-old colts thus far, and O’Brien spoke of his French Guineas winner heading for the Royal Meeting rather than Epsom, with Air Force Blue dropping back in trip, possibly for the Commonwealth Cup, following another lacklustre performance on Saturday.
On Sunday it was the turn of Aidan O’Brien’s Minding, to come off second best. The outstanding winner of the Guineas at Newmarket, was unable to add the Irish 1000 Guineas to her CV. In a thrilling finish, Adrian Keatley’s mud-loving filly Jet Setting, reversed Newmarket form, to win by a head. Shane Foley had the winner prominent from the off and started to apply pressure from half way. Ryan Moore was quick to respond, moving the favourite into a challenging position inside the two-furlong marker.
The pair were locked in battle throughout the final furlong, with Minding appearing to head Jet Setting for a stride or two. But as the line approached, Foley’s willing partner pulled out a little extra, with the two of them 10 lengths clear of the rest.
The winning trainer is based at Friarstown in County Kildare, and only started out in 2014. The winning filly was purchased from Richard Hannon’s yard last October for a bargain price of 12,000 guineas, and a thrilled jockey was first to speak of the stunning success: “It's a dream come true,” said Foley after landing his first Classic. “She's a tough little filly and ran a blinder at Newmarket, the ground was too quick that day. I've been doing a rain dance all week, soft ground and a stiff mile is ideal.”
Keatley was just as thrilled with the momentous victory, saying: “She loves being in front and a bit of soft ground. She was unlucky at Newmarket, getting bumped in the final furlong, and the ground was too quick. She justified her supplementary fee today. It’s a dream really. Miracles happen. She was a cheap purchase and she’s done the business.”
Minding had bumped herself leaving the stalls, but O’Brien remained magnanimous in defeat, as always, when saying: “Ryan said she anticipated the gate and banged her head, grazing the skin down the side of her face and nostril. It's just one of those things and she ran very well but Adrian had his filly in super shape and Shane gave her a great ride.”
The likelihood of the two clashing again at Royal Ascot remains a doubt. Minding looks set to head for Epsom, with O’Brien saying: “It was a bit of an afterthought coming here, we skipped a piece of work and brought her here instead and I don't think there will be any change of plan.” Whilst Jet Setting will need suitable ground to take her chance in the Coronation Stakes.