Search For A Song hits the mark in Loughbrown Stakes

Dermot Weld’s dual Classic heroine Search For A Song returned to her best form with an impressive success in the Group Three Raa Atoll Loughbrown Stakes at the Curragh.

Search For A Song won the Irish St. Leger in 2019 and 2020 but, after a mid-summer break, could finish only sixth behind Sonnyboyliston in pursuit of a famous hat-trick at this same course on Irish Champions Weekend a fortnight ago.

Back up to two miles, for only the second time in her career, last year’s Long Distance Cup runner-up appeared to both relish the extra stamina test and demonstrate her liking once more for the Curragh as she surged to a near 10-length victory from even-money favourite The Mediterranean.

Search For A Song made her own odds of 15-8 look generous, having closed from off the pace to be the last of five in contention approaching the straight, then taken over two furlongs out and moved further and further clear under champion jockey Colin Keane.

Weld said: “That was an impressive performance by her, and she got the trip very well.

“There are a couple of possibilities, and we will see how she comes out of the race before we decide exactly where she runs next.”

Weld confirmed a return to Ascot next month, for a race in which she was runner-up to Trueshan last year, may well be in the offing.

“She’ll obviously run again this year, but we’ll speak with her owner Eva Maria Haefner (of Moyglare Stud) and then decide where we go with her. The Long Distance Cup, in which she was second last year, is one of the possibilities.

“She settled beautifully today. It was a very strong pace all the way, and you could call her a winner a long way out. I always thought she would get that trip, but it was nice to see her do it so well.”

Debutante Dun Na Sead was an eyecatching, all-the-way winner of the opening William Hill Ireland Acca Freedom Irish EBF Maiden.

Kieran Cotter’s Starspangledbanner filly was in front immediately on the stands side, and never in any danger as she raced clear of the field throughout on the way to a length-and-three-quarter victory at 15-2.

Declan McDonogh never needed to get animated in the saddle as Dun Na Sead easily accounted for Neo Soul, confirming the promise she had previously shown in a barrier trial.

Dun Na Sead sports the yellow colours of Kildare Racing Club, to the fore of late on this year’s Ebor and Irish St. Leger hero Sonnyboyliston.

Cotter was understandably enthused after watching the owners’ latest winner.

“She is definitely the fastest two-year-old we have ever had,” said the County Laois trainer.

“She always seemed a bit special, and is very quick.

“Everyone has been very patient with her, because she had a touch of sore shins and went out to grass.

“She did very well in a barrier trial and is a half-sister to a good, tough horse of ours Lord Dudley (in the same ownership).”

Dun Na Sead may well be moving up in class soon – possibly even at Del Mar next month.

Cotter added: “From flagfall, she is gone – a lot of these horses can’t maintain it to the line, but she can.

“We joked a few weeks ago with Liam Clarke, who runs the Kildare Racing Club, that we had half an eye on the Breeders Cup!

“We think she’s black type – but we’re under no pressure now, and we’ll sit back and see where we go.”

New Energy was a second successive all-the-way winner, in the William Hill Ireland Play Responsibly Irish EBF Maiden – and he too earned rave reviews from his trainer, after beating Sir Antonio by two and a half lengths.

Jockey Robbie Colgan always appeared confident on the 11-1 shot, and winning trainer Sheila Lavery said: “I have to thank Gary Halpin, who gave this horse a big recommendation.

“I left him in today but I was praying for rain just to ease the ground a bit.

“I thought so much of him that he had an entry in the Beresford but I didn’t want his first run to be at that level and have a hard race.

“He has a Guineas entry, and I think he’s something very special. He has a very natural high cruising speed.”

New Energy is likely to run again this season, possibly up to Group Three class at Leopardstown next month.

“He ran twice in barrier trails,” added Lavery.

“He was very green the first time, when I didn’t put a cross noseband on him, and he won the second time.

“I would love to run him in a winners-of-one, but those sort of races are really missing from the programme. He could go for something like the Killavullan Stakes at Leopardstown.”

Concert Hall in tune for Weld Park triumph

Aidan O’Brien’s Concert Hall produced a telling late challenge to win the Weld Park Stakes at the Curragh.

The daughter of Ballydoyle’s 2012 Oaks winner Was, ridden here like her mother at Epsom by Seamie Heffernan, appeared to need all of the seven-furlong trip to get on top in this Group Three.

Concert Hall, successful over course and distance in a July maiden, was sent off at 9-2 after finishing out of the first three at Group Two and Group One level at the Curragh over the past two months.

She was still only seventh two furlongs out, as British challenger Lovely Mana and eventual runner-up Sunset Shiraz were among those to the fore on the far rail.

But Heffernan delivered Concert Hall with a sustained run wide of her rivals down the middle of the track, and she got to the front to win by a length – with Seisai staying on for third, a further neck away.

O’Brien, who was winning this race for the fifth time in the last 10 years, said: “I’m delighted with her, and if she comes out of this OK she’ll probably step up and go on to the Fillies’ Mile.

“She’s a hardy lady and is going to improve from racing. She stays well and is a good, strong build.”

Paddy Power shortened Concert Hall to 10-1 from 16-1 for next month’s Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket – and into 20-1 from 33-1 for the 1000 Guineas over the same course and distance.

Renaissance effort puts Art Power in Champions Day frame

Art Power proved far too good for his rivals as he blazed to victory in the William Hill Ireland Renaissance Stakes at the Curragh.

Tim Easterby’s charge boasted some top-class form to his name, having finished third in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot, fourth in the July Cup and a close-up fifth in the Sprint Cup at Haydock when last seen.

Dropped to Group Three level in this six-furlong heat, Art Power was sent off the 4-5 favourite and was always travelling well under David Allan.

He sat on the heels of pace-setter Stormy Girl before Allan gave the signal and Art Power eased right away to win by five lengths from Twilight Spinner. Measure Of Magic was back in third.

Paddy Power make Art Power an 8-1 shot for next month’s Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot – and Allan thinks the Group One heat will play to Art Power’s strengths.

He said: “He travelled very strongly through the race, quickened up and ran through the line strong.

“Obviously it’s a bit of a step down in class for him. It might do his confidence good and hopefully he’ll pick up a big one soon.

“He loves Ascot and I think Champions Day will be the target for him. He goes on that ground, but a bit of juice in the ground would suit him.

“The biggest job is reining in his speed early on to get him a bit more control and then he’ll run through the line.

“He doesn’t need to make the running and as long as he travelled I was happy.”

Willesee looked the part for Jessica Harrington with a winning debut in the Irish EBF Median Sires Series Maiden.

The Gleneagles filly really hit top gear a furlong and a half out and powered home for Nathan Crosse.

Harrington said of the 16-1 winner: “Nathan said he always felt that she was going to get there.

“She was withdrawn at Naas because she wouldn’t go into the stalls and also at a barrier trial.

“Will Hayes has done some job on her and that’s why I’ve run her at the Curragh, so he could come over. He’s at the start with her and leads her in. She trusts him now and maybe that will give her a bit of confidence.

“The owners are Australian.”

Gaire Os Ard made her experience count in the Irish EBF Auction Series Race, defying odds of 9-1 to get off the mark on her seventh racecourse outing.

Always handy, Jim Bolger-trained Teofilo filly kept on strongly from two out and had enough in reserve to hold Thunder Eclipse by three-quarters of a length in the hands of Kevin Manning.

Bolger said: “She has taken a little bit of time, but is a filly with a future and she can run over anything from six furlongs to a mile.

“She is a big filly and we’ll try to get some black type for her, maybe not this year but it will certainly be on the cards for next year.”

Aidan O’Brien and Seamie Heffernan took the feature Beresford Stakes with Luxembourg and Jeroboam (2-1) made it a double with a length-and-a-quarter verdict in the William Hill Ireland Lengthen Your Odds Maiden.

Magniffico (7-2) lifted the GAIN The Advantage Series Nursery Handicap, while Sh Boom swooped late for an 18-1 win in the William Hill Ireland Pick Your Places Handicap.

Luxembourg makes Derby waves in Beresford cruise

Luxembourg moved to the head of the market for next year’s Cazoo Derby after he ran away with the Alan Smurfit Memorial Beresford Stakes at the Curragh.

Trained by Aidan O’Brien and sporting the colours of Westerberg, who own the colt in partnership with the Coolmore team, Luxembourg was completing a big-race double for connections as Tenebrism had landed the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket just moments before.

Much like that filly, Luxembourg came from a seemingly unpromising position at the back of the field in the mile Group Two to win in style.

Tuwaiq, who Luxembourg had beaten on his only previous start at Killarney in July, was in front at the furlong pole for jockey Gary Carroll, but when Seamie Heffernan switched the winner to challenge, the response was instant.

Luxembourg quickly assumed control and stretched away, despite showing a few signs of greenness, to win by four and three-quarters lengths from Manu Et Corde.

A Camelot half-brother to Group Two winner Leo De Fury, Luxembourg is Coral’s new 10-1 co-favourite for the Derby along with stablemate Point Lonsdale and Reach For The Moon, who is owned by the Queen.

Heffernan said: “He’s very smart at home and he’s proven it twice now. I was very impressed – very talented, very smooth.

“The most impressive thing about him is he knows he’s good and he doesn’t show it off. He doesn’t show you until you press the button and say ‘give us a look’.

“When you have that turn of foot a mile is well within his comfort zone.

“His dad was a good staying horse that had the pace and class to win a Guineas. If Aidan wants to run him in the Guineas he’ll change his galloping procedures and if he’s targeting the Derby he’ll go a different route.

“The turn of foot he showed me today was pretty exciting. I’m not sure what he’s going to be targeted at, but he couldn’t have done that any easier.”

Speaking from Newmarket, O’Brien added: “We’ve always thought the world of that horse.”

Discoveries to wait for Classic campaign

Jessica Harrington has confirmed her Moyglare Stud Stakes winner Discoveries will not run again until next season.

The daughter of Mastercraftsman is bred in the purple as a full-sister to Alpha Centauri and a half-sister to Alpine Star – both Group One winners for Harrington and owner-breeders the Niarchos Family.

A winner on her second start at the Curragh in June, Discoveries could finish only third behind Agartha in last month’s Group Two Debutante Stakes but reversed that form to claim top-level honours on the second day of Irish Champions Weekend.

She is entered in the bet365 Fillies Mile at Newmarket on October 8, while she also had the option of running on Arc weekend in France or heading for the Breeders’ Cup – but she will now be saved for a Classic campaign.

Speaking after continuing her excellent run of form with a winner at Punchestown on Tuesday, Harrington told Racing TV: “Discoveries is not going to run again this year. She’s a big filly who has had four runs, and I think that’s enough for her.

“She’s won her Group One, and it would be terrible to go back and get beaten in another Group One, so I’m going to leave her be.

“That (1000 Guineas) is where she will go.”

Discoveries is a 16-1 shot for the 2022 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, for which Inspiral heads the market at 6-1.

Sonnyboyliston lands another knockout blow

Ebor hero Sonnyboyliston claimed Classic glory in the Comer Group International Irish St Leger.

Just over three weeks on from his lucrative handicap success at York, Johnny Murtagh’s charge stepped up to Group One level for the first time under Ben Coen.

With Amhran Na Bhfiann and Colin Keane setting a searching gallop from flag-fall, very few threatened to land a telling blow.

The leader weakened early in the home straight, which left Melbourne Cup winner Twilight Payment in front before Sonnyboyliston (4-1) arrived on the scene travelling strongly.

Twilight Payment did not give in without a fight, but Coen’s mount kept finding for pressure and was three-quarters of a length to the good passing the post.

Coen said: “I couldn’t have asked it to go any better. We jumped and he got a lovely tow into the race. They turned it into a real staying race and this lad keeps improving and keeps finding a way to win.

“Every day we step him up, he keeps on finding and it’s a day I’ll never forget.

“This is my first proper year as number one jockey to Johnny and we’ve had a few good spins in England, but I really wanted to get this Group One winner.

“For it to be a Classic and for Johnny is unbelievable.”

Ben Coen lifts the Irish St Leger trophy
Ben Coen lifts the Irish St Leger trophy (Brian Lawless/PA)

Murtagh, who won the Irish St Leger as a jockey when dead-heating aboard Jukebox Jury a decade ago, said: “On Friday I was bullish about the weekend and then after yesterday’s runners, I came here thinking we had a little chance.

“He was one of our best runners of the week, he never disappoints and I thought he did very well to win today – it looked like a proper race.

“I was a nervous wreck beforehand, but he had a good position all the way. He comes off the bridle, but I thought from two furlongs down Ben looked confident on him. He got into a bit of a battle, but he never lacks in a battle and I thought Ben was brilliant.

“I want to have runners on Irish Champions Weekend – it’s great to sit down and make entries in these great races.

“This horse has won an Ebor and has now won an Irish St Leger – I can’t say enough about him.”

He added: “Racing is a great game and a great leveller. You can never get too high or too low.

“I’m just the front man to a lot of people who do a lot of hard work. JP Murtagh Racing – I’m so proud of everybody.

“It means a lot to win a Classic at your local track.”

Asked whether the Melbourne Cup could be on the agenda, Murtagh said: “I don’t know. I think it will take a fair offer to take him away from the owners now.

“But it is £2.5million. Maybe not this year as he’s only four, but maybe he could end up down there for us sometime.”

Native Trail demolishes National Stakes field

Native Trail rocketed to 2000 Guineas favouritism as he maintained his unbeaten record with a brilliant victory in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes, giving trainer Charlie Appleby a third win in the Curragh showpiece.

Previously successful in the Group One contest with Quorto (2019) and the brilliant Pinatubo (2020), the Moulton Paddocks handler – on the mark 24 hours earlier with Hurricane Lane in the St Leger at Doncaster – sent another high-class juvenile across the Irish Sea in search of top-level honours.

A son of Oasis Dream, the Superlative Stakes winner faced a far from straightforward task, with the Aidan O’Brien-trained Point Lonsdale the 8-13 favourite to make it five from five, and Hugo Palmer’s Ebro River bidding to follow up success in last month’s Phoenix Stakes.

William Buick had to nudge Native Trail (7-2) into contention with a couple of furlongs to run – but he really found top gear late on.

Point Lonsdale did his best to make a race of it, but Appleby’s ace was three and a half lengths clear of the odds-on shot at the line, with Ebro River close up in third.

Paddy Power make Native Trail their 5-1 favourite (from 10-1) for next year’s Guineas, with Coral and Ladbrokes both 4-1.

Appleby said: “This is a route we’ve taken with Pinatubo and Quorto before him – and it was always our plan immediately after the Superlative to come here with this horse.

“People ask ‘why don’t you look at the Champagne Stakes’ (at Doncaster), but I didn’t feel carrying a penalty there on softer conditions was potentially going to suit him.

“I think this is a great race and an indicator to the Dewhurst. It’s a Group One and a great weekend to be involved in.

“To have another winner of the National Stakes is very satisfying.”

Native Trail in full flight
Native Trail in full flight (Brian Lawless/PA)

He added: “He’s an interesting horse to be around. I took him to Newmarket a couple of weeks ago and if you’d asked me there if we’d have been winning a National Stakes, I might have been sat on the fence slightly.

“Full credit to the team at home. We definitely felt the horse had come forward for that gallop and we changed a bit of equipment on him today.

“William said he’s still so green and it felt like he was going down to the start on a maiden.

“He gave him a shove early doors to get up the revs, but I knew with two furlongs to go the one thing this horse was going to do was gallop out strong.

“I’d say we’ll go straight to the Dewhurst. I don’t know if he’s quite got the head for a Breeders’ Cup yet.”

Discoveries on top in Moyglare Stud Stakes

Discoveries provided Jessica Harrington and Shane Foley with yet another Irish Champions Weekend success in the Moyglare Stud Stakes.

Harrington and Foley teamed up for a treble at Leopardstown on Saturday, highlighted by the Group One victory of No Speak Alexander in the Matron Stakes.

Discoveries was sent off at 17-2 to emulate her, having finished third behind the reopposing Agartha in the Debutante Stakes over the course and distance just three weeks ago.

Agartha looked likely to follow up after seeing off a number of challengers, but she was unable to resist the late surge of Discoveries, with three-quarters of a length separating them at the line.

Jessica Harrington with Alpha Centauri
Jessica Harrington with Alpha Centauri (PA)

Harrington said: “To win two Group Ones this weekend is just something else.

“She’s a lovely filly. She’s completely different to her full-sister Alpha Centauri, who was a big grey.

“This filly has done a lot of growing and has a lovely temperament – she’s not as feisty as Alpha.

“Her half-sister Alpine Star was different again. How can I be so lucky to have three fillies out of the same mare that have all won Group Ones?

“This filly was green first time she ran and then she won her maiden. We hoped she’d win the Alpha Centauri Debutante, but the ground came up soft that day and she goes on top of the ground.”

Foley said: “I don’t want this weekend to end, it’s been phenomenal.

“I thought I’d get close to Declan (McDonogh, on Agartha) today as I was riding her a bit different on a bit of better ground. The plan was to sit closer to them and she was well drawn in stall eight as she likes a bit of room.

“She is a very, very good filly, there was no hiding place today and I knew she had stepped forward from the Debutante.

“She was quite green still and had never gone that fast in her life.”

Romantic Proposal repels British raiders in Flying Five

Romantic Proposal saw off a strong British challenge to claim top honours in the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh.

Six years on from saddling star sprinter Sole Power to claim the Group One contest, trainer Eddie Lynam was out to double his tally with Romantic Proposal, who was a 16-1 chance in a market dominated by the raiding party.

The narrow favourite was Archie Watson’s perennial bridesmaid Dragon Symbol, while Tim Easterby’s Winter Power aimed to follow up her brilliant victory in the Nunthorpe last month.

The Kevin Ryan-trained Glass Slippers also crossed the Irish Sea to defend her Flying Five crown, but in the end none could get into the first two places.

Winter Power set a furious pace for much of the way, but her challenge ultimately ended pretty tamely.

Dragon Symbol and Glass Slippers both looked dangerous racing inside the final furlong, but Romantic Proposal finished best in the hands of Chris Hayes to score by half a length from A Case Of You, with Glass Slippers third and Dragon Symbol fourth.

Lynam said: “She’d been progressing and has just kept on improving.

Chris Hayes celebrates winning on Romantic Proposal
Chris Hayes celebrates winning on Romantic Proposal (Brian Lawless/PA)

“Amy, my daughter, bought her as foal. I always believed that the way the filly was improving, she was capable of running a big race.

“I thought it would go to England, to be honest, but she did everything great.

“I think it’s six years since I’ve had a Group One winner. It’s nice to have another one.

“I’ve only 30 horses, so we’re smaller now – but the team work very hard, and we’re still passionate about it.

“Days like today are great.”

La Petite Coco foils Love in Blandford Stakes

La Petite Coco lunged late to deny dual Classic heroine Love a return to winning ways in the Moyglare “Jewels” Blandford Stakes.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained Love looked a potential superstar in the making after winning the 1000 Guineas, the Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks as a three-year-old last season.

But while she came out on top on her seasonal reappearance in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, the daughter of Galileo had since failed to run up to expectations in the either the King George or the Juddmonte International, finishing third on both occasions.

Having her first start outside of Group One company in over two years, Love was the 6-5 favourite and everything looked to be going according to plan for Ryan Moore after she went a couple of lengths clear of the field early in the home straight.

However, Paddy Twomey’s progressive filly La Petite Coco (16-5) – stepping up in class after an impressive success in the Group Three Give Thanks Stakes at Cork – gave chase and finished with a flourish under Billy Lee to get up and win by a short head.

Twomey said: “We hoped coming here that she might do something like that. The worry was the quicker ground and dropping in trip.

“I had a plan mapped out for her in my head and this was it. I wasn’t expecting Love (to run), but when she turned up I said ‘we’re not changing course, we’re going forward’.

“Barry Irwin (of owners Team Valor) gave me a bit of a lecture about taking on Love, but I told him I thought she was good and I thought she was good enough to take her on.

“The plan has been to go to Ascot (on Champions Day) for the fillies’ and mares’ race and I think a mile and a half is really her thing, not a mile and a quarter.”

Michael Hussey and Big Gossey (left) winning at the Curragh
Michael Hussey and Big Gossey (left) winning at the Curragh (Brian Lawless/PA)

Big Gossey was a surprise winner of the Irish Stallion Farms EBF “Bold Lad” Sprint Handicap.

Charles O’Brien’s 33-1 shot raced close to the pace throughout under Michael Hussey – and after taking over the lead inside the final furlongs, he dug deep for pressure to repel the challenge of Arnhem by three-quarters of a length.

“That was sweet,” said Hussey.

“He travelled throughout and picked up well. I was in front a bit too early on him, but he gamed it out.

“He has plenty of speed and did everything right.”

King X J claimed a lucrative victory
King X J claimed a lucrative victory (Brian Lawless/PA)

King X J justified significant market support with victory in the Tattersalls Ireland Super Auction Sale Stakes.

Michael O’Callaghan’s juvenile was only seventh on his racecourse introduction at the Curragh three weeks ago, but was a well-backed 11-4 chance for this 300,000 euro contest.

British raider Cashew was in front for much of the race, but King X J powered home under Leigh Roche to win going away.

Roche said: “The only concern coming up here was the trip. He’s a seven-furlong/mile horse, but he has a bit of class – I’d say he’s going to be very good.

“He improved plenty from his first run and the nicer ground today helped him.”

Winter Power primed for Flying Five assignment

Nunthorpe heroine Winter Power bids to double her Group One tally in the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.

Tim Easterby’s rapid filly successfully graduated to the highest level with a brilliant display on the Knavesmire last month, comfortably getting the better of subsequent Sprint Cup winner Emaraaty Ana.

Just as he was at York, Brazilian rider Silvestre de Sousa will be on board in Ireland and is relishing the challenge.

He said: “It will be nice to ride her again. I haven’t sat on her since the Nunthorpe.

“She was very good at York. Obviously this is a different track as York is a very easy five furlongs and the Curragh is stiffer.

“She has won at Newmarket, but obviously that was in a much lower grade than what she will be running in this weekend.

“If she turns up in the same form she was at York, she should be competitive anyway.

“She’s entitled to be there.”

The biggest threat to Winter Power could be fellow Yorkshire raider Glass Slippers, who defends her Flying Five crown for Kevin Ryan.

Glass Slippers after winning last year's Flying Five Stakes
Glass Slippers after winning last year’s Flying Five Stakes (PA)

Following her victory of 12 months ago, the daughter of Dream Ahead went on to finish second in the Prix de l’Abbaye before winning at the Breeders’ Cup meeting.

The five-year-old has only run once so far this season – finishing a promising third in the King George Stakes at Goodwood in July.

“She’s declared and is going there in great form. We’re looking forward to running her,” said Ryan.

“It’s a Group One, so it’s going to be a strong race.

“This has always been the plan for her, so fingers crossed.”

Archie Watson’s ultra-consistent colt Dragon Symbol will take on Winter Power once again with Oisin Murphy on board.

“I can’t wait. He’s freshened up very well and it looks the right race for him. He’s drawn beside Winter Power and I hope he can turn the tables,” said Murphy.

The David Evans-trained Rohaan and Karl Burke’s Royal Ascot winner Significantly complete a formidable British challenge.

“He’s in great form. It’s a big ask, it’s one of the strongest renewals I’ve seen of this race. But he’s only a three-year-old, we’ll let him take his chance and I’m sure we’ve got a good sprinter for next season even if he doesn’t win,” said Burke.

The home team is headed by Joe Murphy’s Gustavus Weston and Mooneista from Jack Davison’s yard.

The latter was last seen running out an impressive winner of the Group Two Sapphire Stakes over the course and distance two months ago.

Davison said: “There’s not a bother on her. Everything is A1 and we’re ready to roll.

“She’s a progressive sprinter who obviously won a Group Two easily last time out.

“We have stronger competition this time around, but we’re looking forward to having a go.”

Frenetic needs to bounce back to form
Frenetic needs to bounce back to form (Brian Lawless/PA)

Colin Keane rides the Ger Lyons-trained Frenetic, who is fitted with blinkers for the first time.

“She was a very good juvenile. She bombed out on her first run of the year in Cork on slow ground, but the boss got her back to produce one of her best performances back in Cork in handicap company, carrying top weight against older horses,” said the rider.

“At Tipperary the last day, she was probably drawn on the wrong side and the ground was a fraction slow where we were. We were probably on the worst ground and she never felt comfortable.

“She’d have to bounce back to her best to be getting involved, but if she did, she’d have every chance.”

Song searching for Irish Leger hat-trick

Search For A Song is reported to be in rude health ahead of her bid for a third victory in the Comer Group International Irish St. Leger.

Trainer Dermot Weld has won the Curragh Classic on nine occasions in all, with Vintage Crop landing back-to-back renewals in the 1990s and Vinnie Roe securing four consecutive renewals between 2001 and 2004.

Having struck gold as a three-year-old in 2019 and successfully defended her crown 12 months ago, hopes are high that Search For A Song can complete the hat-trick on Sunday, having been saved for the race since finishing fifth in the Tattersalls Gold Cup in May.

Fiona Craig, bloodstock and breeding adviser to owners Moyglare Stud Farm, said: “All is good. I saw her at Rosewell House on Friday and her coat is like silk.

“Dermot has aimed her for this and rather kept her for it. She’s in great nick and looks fantastic.

“It’s a tough race, but I think she’ll run her usual good race.

“It would be something special to win it for a third time – we’ll dream.”

Search For A Song is one of 14 runners declared for the one-mile-six-furlong contest, with Joseph O’Brien firing a three-pronged assault.

Twilight Payment has an excellent record at the Curragh
Twilight Payment has an excellent record at the Curragh (PA)

The Owning Hill handler runs six-times course winner and Melbourne Cup hero Twilight Payment, as well as the prolific Baron Samedi and Master Of Reality.

Johnny Murtagh steps Sonnyboyliston up in class following his lucrative success in the Ebor at York last month.

He said: “He’s going well, he came out of the Ebor really well and we’re looking forward to seeing how he gets on in this.”

Point Lonsdale ready for National service at the Curragh

Point Lonsdale aims to extend the perfect start to his career to five races in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.

Favourite for next year’s 2000 Guineas and Derby, Point Lonsdale won the Chesham at Royal Ascot, beating Reach For The Moon, and has handled each subsequent rise in grade with aplomb.

He won a Leopardstown Group Three by three lengths and a Curragh Group Two by four and a quarter, but undoubtedly faces his stiffest test to date.

“He’s done everything he’s been asked so far and seems to be in good form since his last run,” said trainer Aidan O’Brien.

“We’ve just taken gradual steps with him and he’s been coming along gradually.

“We’ve been happy with him since the last day.”

One of his rivals is already a Group One winner, however. Hugo Palmer’s Ebro River had run solid races in England through the summer but journeyed to Ireland to win the Phoenix Stakes and is attempting to complete a double last achieved by Air Force Blue in 2015.

“He’s in good form and we’ll see how he gets on,” said Palmer.

“He’s stepping up to seven furlongs. I think he’d have won the last day over seven, but he’s taking on different horses this time.

“I think it will be nice, good ground by the sounds of it.”

Ebro River has already enjoyed one successful trip to Ireland
Ebro River has already enjoyed one successful trip to Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

Colin Keane rides Duke De Sessa for Dermot Weld, who has made no secret of the regard in which he holds the colt.

“We think he’s a very nice horse, we thought a lot of him going to Galway,” said Keane.

“I thought in Galway the only thing that might beat him was the track and that it was his first time out, to be honest, and it turns out it did.

“He rectified that at the Curragh the last day and showed us what he’s being showing us at home. We think he’s pretty smart all right.”

Charlie Appleby has sent Quorto and Pinatubo to win in the last three years and this time relies on Native Trail, winner of the Superlative Stakes last time out.

In the fillies’ equivalent, the Moyglare Stud Stakes, the sponsors are aiming to win the prize for the first time with Homeless Songs.

Fiona Craig, of Moyglare Stud, said: “She looks amazing. She’s only run the once as Dermot chose not to go for the Debutante, just because he felt she didn’t need a tough race three weeks beforehand.

“I think she’s been training very well – the lads seem very happy with her.

“It’s a very competitive Moyglare with some very good fillies there, but I’m sure she’ll run a good race.

“It’s quite exciting. We’ve been second and fourth, but we’ve never won it before.

“It would be a bit of a dream to win it.”

Love was successful at Royal Ascot
Love was successful at Royal Ascot (David Davies/PA)

Another star on show is O’Brien’s multiple Group One winner Love, who drops in class for the Moyglare “Jewels” Blandford Stakes.

She returned to action this season by winning the Prince of Wales’s Stakes but has been beaten in the King George and Juddmonte International since.

“Things just haven’t quite gone to plan since Royal Ascot, the pace of the races weren’t ideal but she’s been in good form since the last day,” said O’Brien.

While she faces some smart fillies like La Petite Coco and Thundering Nights, it is nothing like the challenges she has come up against recently against Adayar and Mishriff.

Point Lonsdale bids for top billing on starry Sunday at the Curragh

Point Lonsdale is one of the many stars on show on a mouth-watering second day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend at the Curragh.

Unbeaten in four starts to date, Aidan O’Brien’s colt already tops ante-post lists for both next year’s 2000 Guineas and the Derby.

The son of Australia is set to face six rivals as he steps up to Group One level for the first time in Sunday’s Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes – including a trio of British challengers in Ebro River, Great Max and Native Trail.

Hugo Palmer’s Ebro River is already a Group One winner, having landed last month’s Keeneland Phoenix Stakes over a furlong shorter at the same track, while Native Trail will bid to provide Charlie Appleby with a third National Stakes success following the recent triumphs of Quorto (2018) and Pinatubo (2019).

Great Max represents Michael Bell, with Duke De Sessa (Dermot Weld), Anatoli (John Feane) and Ultramarine (Joseph O’Brien) the other hopefuls.

The juvenile fillies get their chance to shine in the preceding Moyglare Stud Stakes, in which Aidan O’Brien saddles both Concert Hall and Prettiest.

The standard is set by Joseph O’Brien’s Debutante Stakes heroine Agartha, with course-and-distance scorer Cairde Go Deo (Ger Lyons) and once-raced maiden winner Homeless Songs (Weld) also in contention.

The first of four Group Ones on a stellar card is the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes, which sees Tim Easterby’s Winter Power bid to follow up her Nunthorpe victory of last month.

She is joined on the trip across the Irish Sea by Kevin Ryan’s defending champion Glass Slippers, as well as Dragon Symbol (Archie Watson), Rohaan (David Evans) and Significantly (Karl Burke) – while the home team is headed by Joe Murphy’s course favourite Gustavus Weston.

The Weld-trained Search For A Song will bid for a third successive win in the Comer Group International Irish St. Leger.

She is one of 14 runners declared for the one-mile-six-furlong Classic, with Joseph O’Brien’s pair of Twilight Payment and Baron Samedi and Johnny Murtagh’s Ebor hero Sonnyboyliston chief among her rivals.

Aidan O’Brien’s multiple Group One winner Love, meanwhile, has her sights lowered for the Group Two Blandford Stakes.

Winter Power heading for Flying Five at the Curragh

Nunthorpe heroine Winter Power has been given the go-ahead for the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.

Tim Easterby’s filly was a brilliant winner on the Knavesmire last month – and having reportedly taken those exertions in her stride, she will bid to double her Group One tally at the weekend before being prepared for the Prix de l’Abbaye on the first Sunday in October.

Alastair Donald, racing manager for owners King Power Racing, said: “The plan is to go. She’s well after York and we just thought she might be too fresh if we left her between now and the Abbaye without a run.

“Winning the Nunthorpe was very special for all concerned. She’d threatened to do that – she’s raw speed and that track suits her.

“Having said that, she has won at plenty of other places, including over a stiff five up the hill at Newmarket, so there’s no reason why the Curragh wouldn’t suit.”

Donald confirmed the Abbaye remains on the agenda and that Winter Power will return as a four-year-old next season.

He added: “She’s an exciting prospect and as long as she runs well on Sunday, the Abbaye will be the next step.

“She won’t be going to the Breeders’ Cup. I would be nervous watching her go round a bend! She once went round a bend at Wolverhampton and she got stuffed when she had to run to about 70 to win!

“She’ll be back next year, 100 per cent. Ideally she’ll go Flying Five, Abbaye, make her champion sprinter and then do it all again next year!”

Glass Slippers after winning last year's Flying Five Stakes
Glass Slippers after winning last year’s Flying Five Stakes (PA)

Winter Power was one of 16 sprinters left in the Flying Five following Tuesday’s forfeit stage.

She may have most to fear from a fellow Yorkshire raider in Kevin Ryan’s Glass Slippers, who won the race 12 months ago before going on to finish second in the Abbaye and win at the Breeders’ Cup.

Archie Watson’s ultra-consistent colt Dragon Symbol is another potential challenger from Britain, while the home team includes Jack Davison’s Mooneista and the Joe Murphy-trained Gustavus Weston.

The Flying Five is the first of four Group One prizes on day two of Longines Irish Champions Weekend, with Classic glory up for grabs in the Comer Group International Irish St Leger.

Dermot Weld’s Search For A Song could bid for a third victory on the one-mile-six-furlong contest, while the Joseph O’Brien-trained Twilight Payment will look to add to his six course wins.

Johnny Murtagh’s Ebor hero Sonnyboyliston also features among the 22 contenders.

The juvenile fillies and colts get their chance to shine at Group One level in the Moyglare Stud Stakes and Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes respectively.

Fourteen fillies remain in the mix for the Moyglare, with Joseph O’Brien’s Debutante Stakes scorer Agartha setting the standard.

Point Lonsdale is unbeaten in four starts
Point Lonsdale is unbeaten in four starts (Brian Lawless/PA)

The National Stakes throws up an intriguing clash between Aidan O’Brien’s unbeaten colt Point Lonsdale and Native Trail, who will bid to provide his trainer Charlie Appleby with a third win in the race following the successive triumphs of Quorto and Pinatubo.

Appleby told “Native Trail’s prep has gone well. It has always been the plan to progress from the Group Two Superlative Stakes at Newmarket to the National Stakes at the Curragh. It’s a well-trodden path for ourselves.”

Hugo Palmer’s Phoenix Stakes winner Ebro River adds further strength in depth.