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.”