Portland in line for Royal Ascot after game Leopardstown win

Portland put in a gutsy performance to prevail in the Listed-class King George V Cup at Leopardstown and could now play a part in Aidan O’Brien’s Royal Ascot plans.

On his first attempt at a mile and a half, the 13-8 favourite was settled in third behind Gesture and Keeper’s Heart for much of the race by Ryan Moore but came through to hit the front at the furlong pole.

The son of Dubawi was given a scare by main market rival Kinesiology, who then threw down a serious challenge, but Portland dug deep to fend off Jessica Harrington’s charge by a neck.

O’Brien’s representative Chris Armstrong said: “It’s lovely to get another win as he’s run some good races. We thought he’d appreciate stepping up to a mile and a half.

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“Ryan gave him a lovely ride and wanted to get there at just the right time.

“That puts him in the mix now for Royal Ascot and he could go for the King Edward over a mile and a half or there is no reason why he wouldn’t get the mile and six in a Queen’s Vase.

“We’ll see over the next week where they are all going to fit in.

“It’s nice to get another run into him, give him a confidence booster and he’ll come on another bit from it.

“When the second horse got up his inside and came at him, he put the head down well. He’s as game as the day is long.”

Tarawa enjoyed a relatively smooth success in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Glencairn Stakes over nine furlongs thanks to an enterprising ride from Chris Hayes.

Leopardstown Races – Thursday June 6th
Tarawa ridden by Chris Hayes on the way to winning at Leopardstown (Brian Lawless/PA).

Dermot Weld’s filly was third behind Quar Shamar and Unreasonable early on but Hayes clearly felt the pace wasn’t strong enough, as he sent the 2-1 favourite to the front before halfway.

The four-year-old kicked clear just after turning for home and never looked in danger following that move, ultimately obliging by two and a quarter lengths from the staying-on Cairo.

Weld said: “She deserved that. It was her first time to run over that trip and I thought she’d enjoy it.

“She has a lot of Group black type and I wanted to win a Stakes race with her. Winning over that trip opens up a lot more opportunities going forward.

“I loved the way she quickened and put it away very quickly.

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“I left it (riding plans) to Chris. I said sit handy and there wasn’t a lot of pace on, so he decided to go on and it was the right thing to do.

“We’ve held her up before and last time in Naas we both felt that we probably should have made a bit more use of her.

“I’d stick to at least a mile and one now and we could edge on to a mile and a quarter with her.

“The ground is a credit to Leopardstown – beautiful summer ground.”

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