The much-talked-about Waterville could finish only third behind Glory Daze on his eagerly-awaited debut at the Curragh.
A half-brother to multiple Group One-winning filly Sea Of Class, Waterville has been the buzz horse at Ballydoyle this spring, with trainer Aidan O’Brien mentioning him as a potential Derby candidate.
It was no surprise therefore that the Camelot colt, who is already entered in the Dante, the Derby and the Irish Derby, was the 8-11 favourite for the TRI Equestrian Irish European Breeders Fund Maiden under Ryan Moore.
Settled in midfield for much of the race, Waterville showed signs of inexperience at times, but did manage to move closer to the leaders early in the straight.
He was briefly caught in a pocket and had to be switched wide to mount his challenge, but while he stayed on well it was just at the one pace and he was beaten five lengths.
O’Brien told Racing TV: “We were delighted with the run. I’m sorry he didn’t win, but he ran a lovely race.
“He was very green through the race and Ryan said it was a slow enough pace. He said he would have had to bustle him to get him out five furlongs out and he felt it wasn’t the right thing.
“He ran home very well and Ryan was very happy with the horse. He’s a horse with loads of class to come.
“The plan was if he won today and won well we’d look at a Derby trial and if that went well we’d have a look at the Derby, but now we won’t – we’ll go back for a maiden and then have a look at Ascot.
“He’s going to be a lovely horse, but he’s still a bit of a baby. As the year goes on he’ll turn into a lovely colt.”
Glory Daze, who ran three times as a two-year-old and was last seen finishing down the field in a Group Three at Leopardstown in October, was second best in the market at 9-2 for trainer Andy Oliver.
Gary Carroll guided the three-year-old to the front racing inside the final furlong and there did not appear to be any fluke about the way he readily pulled three and a quarter lengths clear.
Cougar, Waterville’s stablemate, was best of the rest in second.
Oliver said of the winner: “That was great. He’s a very big horse and he showed a lot of promise last year.
“He was unlucky on his second start in Navan when he got trapped on the rail. He actually ran very well in the Eyrefield Stakes when he got badly hampered. That looked like it was going to be a good run.
“He’s improved over the winter and we expected him to go well, but we thought he might need the run. Everything went well for him and Gary gave him a lovely ride.
“He’s still got a lot to learn, Gary said he still rode green. He loved him and we’re delighted with that.
“We haven’t any entries and we’ll make a plan from here, but he looks like a horse that will definitely have to step up in class.”