Little Big Bear backed up his Royal Ascot victory in style when an impressive winner of the Jebel Ali Racecourse And Stables Anglesey Stakes at the Curragh on Saturday.
Always to the fore in the hands of big-race pilot Ryan Moore, the son of No Nay Never made light work of this return to six furlongs, showing a blistering turn of foot to scorch clear of the pack and register a four-and-three-quarter-length triumph.
It was the two-year-old’s first win at Group level and third straight victory, with his sole defeat coming on debut. Attentions now turn to what the talented colt could do next, with O’Brien stating Moore believes seven furlongs is well within range for the strapping youngster.
“We’re delighted with him. He’s always shown a lot, he came here the first day and then improved lovely to win the next day,” said O’Brien.
“Obviously we were delighted with him in Ascot and he was lovely here today, Ryan was very happy with him.
“He’s a lovely, smooth traveller, he’s very uncomplicated. He’s very happy to make the running and very happy to sit in.
“Ryan said he couldn’t believe how easily he was going down past the two today. He said when he asked him, the response was very quick. You’d have to be very happy with him.
“Even though he’s big, he’s very strong and mature, he’s powerful.
“We’ve always liked him a lot and from day one he was always showing plenty.
“Interestingly Ryan said today that he could be a Dewhurst horse or a National Stakes horse. Obviously he’s running through the line when he’s saying that. That’s a good sign.”
When asked if he sees him as a Guineas horse, O’Brien added: “You’d have to, definitely at the moment. When they feel like they are going to get seven at two, they usually get a mile at three.
“He could obviously come back here for the Phoenix Stakes, that would be the plan and that’s what we were thinking coming here today. Hopefully if everything is well that’s what we’d love to do
O’Brien was also on the scoresheet in the Juddmonte Farms Expert Eye Irish EBF for the sixth time in 10 years when Hans Andersen ran out a decisive winner in the opener.
An eyecatching second on debut at Tipperary, the smartly-bred son of Frankel thrived for encountering good ground for the first time, the 450,000 guineas buy making all to score by almost two lengths from the fast-finishing Al Riffa.
The winner was introduced at 20-1 with Coral for the Qipco 2000 Guineas, and 25-1 for the Cazoo Derby.
“We’re delighted with him, he had a lovely run the first day and he learned plenty,” said O’Brien.
“He won well. He was a little bit green turning in in Tipperary and came forward lovely.
“He should have no problem stepping into stakes company now. He should have no problem going further but there is no rush to step him up.
“He could come back here for the Futurity or something like that.”
All Things Nice (9-4 favourite) was on the mark for Joseph O’Brien in the DMG Media Nursery Handicap while Extensio (6-1) took the Kildare Village Ladies Derby Handicap.
Trained by Pat O’Donnell and ridden by his daughter Sylvia, Extensio proved half a length too good for his rivals to give the family, who also own the gelding, an emotional success.
“It’s unbelievable and I’d have given up a Group One winner for my daughter to ride the winner of this race,” said the handler.
“Sylvia and I planned this. He had shown form early, he was a very weak yearling, but he was a resolute galloper.
“Obviously the Ladies Derby is an important race. Sylvia works in Kildare, for BBA, so she’d have a lot of friends here.
“Sylvia rides out every morning for Ken Condon and that’s only her third ride this year. She goes to the gym and it’s a mammoth thing to do, and she’s done it today.”
Benitoite (3-1) rounded off a memorable day for trainer Jessica Harrington, jockey Shane Foley and owner Zhang Yuesheng as she landed the closing TaxAssist Accountants Kildare-South Irish EBF Fillies Maiden.
The trio had earlier bagged the Irish Oaks with Magical Lagoon.
“She was unlucky here last year as a two-year-old and it’s just taken a while to get her right, she’s quite a big filly. She’s done that very well,” said Harrington.
“The more traffic problems she got into, the better she was. I’m absolutely delighted and it’s great for Mr Zhang to have a day like this, to win a Classic and then win with this filly.