Cape Gentleman ran out an emphatic winner of the Paddy Power Irish Cesarewitch at the Curragh.
Formerly trained in France by Nicolas Clement, the four-year-old was snapped up for 80,000 euros by Emmet Mullins last October and made an encouraging start for his new connections when runner-up to Mt Leinster at Listowel last month.
Ronan Whelan’s mount was a 15-2 chance for his handicap debut and after being ridden positively from the off, he took over the lead from his stablemate Sneaky Getaway early in the home straight.
The result was never really in doubt thereafter as Cape Gentleman readily extended clear, passing the post two lengths ahead of 100-1 shot Aircraft Carrier, with De Name Escapes Me making late gains to finish third.
Hot favourite Royal Illusion passed the post in sixth, but was later disqualified after rider Joey Sheridan failed to weigh in.
Mullins said of the winner: “We got this horse a year ago and it’s all worked out well. We had him ready to go during the summer and he just met with a little hiccup and it was great to get the run into him at Listowel before coming here.
“My only worry was that he hadn’t ran for a year and it was just 16 days back from the Listowel run. It was a quick enough turnaround considering that he hadn’t run for a year.
“This is a huge race to win. We’ll see what the handicapper will do now. He was primarily bought to jump hurdles and I’m sure he will do that at some stage.
“We have options now and we are in a good place.”
The stewards inquired into Sheridan’s failure to weigh in and suspended the rider for two days.
John McConnell’s A Case Of You impressed in the Group Three Jebel Ali Racecourse And Stables Anglesey Stakes.
Third on his Bellewstown debut before opening his account at Down Royal last month, the 6-1 shot successfully graduated to Pattern class with a one-and-a-quarter-length verdict over Lipizzaner under Gary Carroll.
McConnell said: “That’s my first Curragh winner as usually if I have a good horse, I stay away from the Curragh because the competition is so good, but he justified coming here and was impressive.
“It’s my first Group winner on the Flat. I doubt if he will run again this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets faster and faster and the dream could be something like a Commonwealth Cup (at Royal Ascot).”
Helvic Dream (6-1) continued Noel Meade’s excellent run of form with a comprehensive victory in the Novi IT Services International Stakes.
Third behind the reopposing Sonnyboyliston over the course and distance four weeks ago, the three-year-old comprehensively turned that form around to claim Group Three honours under Colin Keane.
“I thought he was good all year, but things just haven’t gone right for him with one thing and another,” said Meade.
“I don’t know where he will go next, and there is the possibility we could travel with him. He’ll stick to Stakes races now. We have schooled him over barrels, but that will probably go out the window.”
Keane had earlier partnered his first winner for Aidan O’Brien aboard 2-1 favourite Khartoum in the Curragh Where Champions Are Made Maiden, before Paddy Twomey and Billy Lee teamed up to land the Listed Staffordstown Stud Stakes with 10-1 shot Fantasy Lady.
Patrick Mullins steered 1-3 favourite Mt Leinster to victory for his father Willie in the Chapmans Kildare Amateur Riders Derby.
“This fellow has schooled over fences and he’s very good, so I’d imagine that is going to be on the cards for him,” said the rider.
“I was able to twist Willie’s arm and get him to run here rather than the Cesarewitch.”