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Real Appeal bags Ballycorus honours for Harrington

Real Appeal quickened up smartly to deny Lord Of The Lodge an all-the-way win in the Ballycorus Stakes at Leopardstown.

Karl Burke’s Lord Of The Lodge looked set to make the journey from North Yorkshire worthwhile when he grabbed an early lead under Gavin Ryan and led his rivals a merry dance.

Ryan looked to have judged it perfectly as he kicked clear with over a furlong to run, but Shane Foley knew what he had underneath him.

Jessica Harrington’s Real Appeal, a close third in a valuable handicap at Cork last time out, came with a sweeping run down the outside to collar Lord Of The Lodge close home.

The disappointment of the race was Kevin Prendergast’s Monaasib, who was third behind Poetic Flare in a Guineas Trial earlier in the season but never threatened to get involved.

Real Appeal won by half a length at 6-1, with two and a quarter lengths back to Pearls Galore in third.

Harrington said: “He really loves Leopardstown. I’d say his handicapping days are probably over now.

“He likes good ground, Leopardstown, and we’ll see where we go now with him.

“He has stepped forward very well this year, he’s a different horse, and I’m delighted with him.

“Seven (furlongs) is what he needs, I’m not sure he gets much further. Even still he got there a bit soon and was pulling himself up a little bit in front.

“This was the plan and I’ll have to go and look at the programme book now. He’ll come back here on Champions Weekend for the seven-furlong race, that will be his aim at the end of the year.”

Lord to lap up fast ground at Leopardstown

Karl Burke expects Lord Of The Lodge to relish forecast lively ground on his return to turf in the Group Three Ballycorus Stakes at Leopardstown on Thursday.

Lord Of The Lodge spent the winter and early spring plying his trade to good effect at Britain’s all-weather tracks, predominantly over seven furlongs.

Those efforts have returned three placings, including a second behind Mums Tipple in the Listed Lady Wulfruna Stakes at Wolverhampton, and most recently a victory in the Bombardier All-Weather Championships Apprentice Handicap on Lingfield’s Good Friday card.

Burke hopes the four-year-old’s experience round a bend over that trip will serve him well at Leopardstown.

“We’re looking forward to seeing him run,” said the Middleham trainer.

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“He’s in great form – it looks a competitive race, but a race I think he can run well in.

“The track should suit. The ground is fast, and he loves fast ground.

“He’s clicked on the all-weather nicely. He’d never raced around a bend until the first time we sent him to Wolverhampton – he didn’t run great that day but he’s gradually got the hang of running round a bend, so that shouldn’t hold any fears for us.”

Among Lord Of The Lodge’s opponents is Kevin Prendergast’s Monaasib, who was last seen finishing eighth in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

That performance was only the second time the Shadwell Estate-owned colt has been unplaced in his eight career starts, and Prendergast believes heavy ground was the reason.

“He’s in good shape,” said the veteran trainer.

“I’d say in the Guineas the ground was so bad, he just ran poorly.”

The use of headgear may also bring about a return to form, with Prendergast fitting a visor to Monaasib for the first time.

“He runs in a visor – he’s a bit of a lazy boyo,” he said.

“We just thought a visor might make him travel better.”

Speak In Colours is one of two runners for Joseph O’Brien, with Snapraeterea also representing the yard after his third place in the Gallinule Stakes.

Paddy Twomey will saddle his filly Pearls Galore, who runs for the first time since Dundalk in November, with Michael Halford’s Surrounding also making her seasonal reappearance after contesting the same Listed race last time.

Ger Lyons’ Soul Search bids to build on her two placed Group runs this season – with Jessica Harrington’s Real Appeal, Ross O’Sullivan’s Koolasice, Jim Bolger’s Smash Williams and Aidan O’Brien’s Admiral Nelson all set to line up too.

Fernando Vichi boosts Bolshoi Ballet with Nijinsky victory at Leopardstown

Fernando Vichi underlined Derby favourite Bolshoi Ballet’s Epsom credentials as he ground out victory in the Listed Nijinsky Stakes at Leopardstown.

Donnacha O’Brien’s winner had finished an aggregate of 12 lengths behind his father Aidan’s Bolshoi Ballet in his two previous races this season.

As O’Brien senior relies on the latter as his sole Derby contender on Saturday, Fernando Vichi advertised the form of his back-to-back Group Three Leopardstown victories in the Ballysax Stakes and Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial.

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Gavin Ryan had the 5-1 winner in front after a furlong as he moved up to a mile and a half for the first time and, after remaining prominent throughout, kicked clear into the straight.

O’Brien’s favourite The Mediterranean came under pressure turning in – and although staying on to good effect in the closing stages, he could get no closer than a three-quarter-length second at the line. Joseph O’Brien’s Ruling completed the family’s clean sweep, the same distance again back in third.

Fernando Vichi’s victory fuelled his own Classic aspirations, with this month’s Irish Derby likely to be next and then a move further up in trip possibly on his longer-term agenda.

Donnacha O’Brien said: “He had a good run the last day – and we always knew he was going to be a mile-and-a-half horse, at least.

“Gavin gave him a lovely ride today. He got a nice, easy lead – but he quickened up well.

“He put lengths on them and then got a little bit lazy in the last half-furlong. I thought it was a good performance.

“I think he’s earned a shot at the Irish Derby now – that looks like the obvious target.

“He’s a horse that stays very well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we step him up again after that.”

Asked if the St Leger could therefore come into the equation later in the season, the winning trainer said: “I think so. There is a lot of stamina in his pedigree – and he has a nice, lazy, relaxed way of going.

“I see no reason why he shouldn’t be (a Leger horse).

“He quickened up very well today, so he deserves a shot at a big one over a mile and a half before we start thinking that way.”

Magnanimous gesture rewarded with Listed honours

Magnanimous returned to winning form to post his first Listed success in the Glencairn Stakes at Leopardstown.

Joseph O’Brien’s three-year-old saw off both his contemporaries and elders with plenty in hand, scoring by two lengths at 8-1.

Magnanimous, without a win in his previous four starts since prevailing in a Listowel handicap last September, made the most of a minor pull in the weights under these race conditions to number his Curragh Listed conqueror Lunar Space among those behind him this time.

Shane Crosse had the Mehmas colt positioned in third entering the straight, off the pace set by Koolasice. But once he challenged and soon led a furlong out, he took control – with Four Home Two closest at the line, and favourite Sinawann another length and a quarter back in third on his belated first start of the campaign.

The winner was returning to a mile for only the second time in his career, and assistant trainer Brendan Powell said: “His run against Poetic Flare here was a good run (sixth to the subsequent 2000 Guineas winner in April) – but last time, Shane said he was all over the place on the ground at Naas.

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“He said he did that really well today. I’d say that’s by far his best run.

“He was shouldering a lot of weight in his nurseries last year. He’s a genuine horse – and he loves this (good) ground.

“Hopefully he’ll go on from here. He’s got speed for seven, stays this trip well and will probably stay a bit further even in time. I’m sure there will be plenty of options for him.”

Juncture built on her debut effort with an emphatic victory in the opening Yeomanstown Stud “Shaman” Irish EBF Fillies Maiden.

Ger Lyons’ juvenile was no match for Contarelli Chapel at Naas in April, but still caught the eye there as one who looked sure to be winning races.

Colin Keane had the 11-10 favourite in front early this time, and was then prominent throughout before taking over again just inside the last two furlongs and stretching clear to win by three and a quarter lengths from Radiyka.

O’Brien’s debutant Seisai – running in the all green colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede much more widely associated with jumps racing, and a half-sister to Magnanimous – kept on well from off the pace to finish a promising third.

Shane Lyons, assistant trainer of the Juddmonte-owned winner, said: “We’re very happy with that.

“She was green the first day – as you’d expect – and we gave her a two-week break. She enjoyed herself, and we were a little worried that she might be a little stuffy for it.

“Hopefully she’ll improve again for that. That trip is ideal, and she’ll get a little bit further.

“That was the first box ticked. We’ll see where we go now as it’s going to be a long year with her.”

Sinawann makes seasonal bow in Glencairn contest

The high-class Sinawann makes his belated reappearance in the Glencairn Stakes at Leopardstown on Thursday.

Mick Halford’s charge has won twice from seven career starts to date, including a Group Three triumph in the Amethyst Stakes over this course and distance last summer.

The Kingman colt has also run some excellent races in defeat – placing in Group races won by Mogul and Armory, finishing sixth last year’s Irish 2,000 Guineas and beaten a short head by Safe Voyage on his latest appearance in September’s Boomerang Mile at this venue.

Sinawann’s comeback has been delayed by injury and his trainer admits he will be better for the outing.

Halford said: “He had a setback over the winter, so we’re late getting him going, but he’s in great form.

“He’s ready to start, (but) he’s quite a lazy horse at home, so it will take a run to see where we are with him.

“He’s strengthened well over the winter, we’re pleased with him and we’re looking forward to getting him going.”

Sinawann is among 10 runners declared for the first of two Listed events on Thursday’s card, with Johnny Murtagh’s Naas scorer Fourhometwo, Jim Bolger’s Tetrarch Stakes winner Lunar Space and the Ger Lyons-trained course-and-distance victor Ebeneezer Perry among his rivals.

Listed honours are also up for grabs in the Nijinsky Stakes, which has attracted a field of eight.

Donnacha O’Brien’s Fernando Vichi just about sets the standard after finishing third behind Saturday’s Cazoo Derby favourite Bolshoi Ballet in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial last month.

Bolshoi Ballet’s trainer, Aidan O’Brien, is represented by course and distance maiden winner The Mediterranean, who also has the option of running at Epsom this weekend.

Joseph O’Brien is double-handed, with Max Mayhem and Ruling both worthy of respect in an open contest.

Emperor Of The Sun earns Ascot Gold Cup tilt

Emperor Of The Sun signalled his staying potential with an emphatic, career-best victory in the Saval Beg Levmoss Stakes at Leopardstown.

Donnacha O’Brien’s four-year-old belied his odds of 18-1 in a six-strong field of proven performers, prominent throughout before storming clear in the straight to win by three and a half lengths under Gavin Ryan.

Emperor Of The Sun had previously won just a 2019 Galway maiden from 10 attempts – although he did also outrun big odds on his seasonal return in the Group Three Vintage Crop Stakes when third at Navan last month, just behind the reopposing Master Of Reality.

He put that rival in the shade this time, along with Melbourne Cup winner Twilight Payment and dual Irish St Leger heroine Search For A Song – who got closest to him as she stayed on to take minor honours.

Last year’s Derby runner-up Amhran Na Bhfiann was sent off favourite, but faded well out of contention to finish only fourth, having raced close to the pace until halfway.

Betfair and Paddy Power responded to Emperor Of The Sun’s victory by cutting him from 50-1 to 20-1 for next month’s Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

The winning trainer said: “He was good. It seems the further he goes the better he gets.

“He has one gear – he grinds and is able to keep going. We’ll probably look at the Gold Cup now, and he might even be better over that trip.

“They are good horses there (today) – behind Stradivarius they are the ones that are up there in the betting for the Gold Cup. You have a dual Irish Leger winner – they are proper horses, and it was a real test of stamina.

“He’s seems to be improving and he’s exciting.”

Bolshoi Ballet powers to Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial demolition

Bolshoi Ballet leapt to the head of the Cazoo Derby ante-post market with an impressive trial victory at Leopardstown.

Aidan O’Brien’s Galileo colt was far too good for his rivals in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes – a race which has been springboard to a succession of the Ballydoyle trainer’s champions over the years.

Ryan Moore tracked big outsider Wexford Soil in the early stages of the Group Three, before taking over with three furlongs to run and quickly scooting clear with a quarter of a mile to run.

The outcome was instantly beyond doubt, and the even-money favourite crossed the line six lengths clear of his vain pursuers, led by stablemate Lough Derg.

Mac Swiney failed to boost his Derby prospects by managing only a near seven-length fourth.

Bolshoi Ballet, who was following up his course-and-distance victory in the Ballysax Stakes last month, was quickly promoted to outright favouritism for next month’s Derby – at as short as 7-4 with Coral, as he follows a route famously trod by his sire.

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He had previously shared the top of the market at around 5-1 with unbeaten stablemate High Definition, who had to miss his intended prep run in Lingfield’s Derby Trial on Saturday because of a poor blood test but may yet be in action in the Dante Stakes at York this week.

O’Brien was notable among the admirers of Bolshoi Ballet’s performance.

“He’s very uncomplicated, quickens, relaxes,” he said.

“We always loved him. He travelled to France last year (fifth in the Group One Criterium de Saint-Cloud) in ground that we knew he wouldn’t like – but we wanted to travel him for experience.

“We are delighted with that and we couldn’t have asked for any more from him.

“There was an even pace which was great. He quickened well and he gets it (the trip).”

Moore added: “He’s a very professional horse and was always travelling beautifully through the race. He’s very smooth and ticks a lot of boxes.

“It was a proper test today, and that will stand him in good stead for what comes next.

“It’s very windy, and inexperienced horses are getting knocked around. He has a super attitude and is a straightforward horse.”

O’Brien confirmed High Definition still has a chance of taking part in Thursday’s Derby trial at York, which he reiterated is paramount for his participation at Epsom.

He said: “High Definition will do a bit in the morning, and we are hoping that he might go to York.

“His blood count is still coming down – it’s not 100 per cent yet, but it’s a lot better than it was. It’s nearly there.

“We need to run obviously. He has to get out if he’s going to the Derby.

“He’s not been medicated, because we couldn’t find anything.”

Joan Of Arc enters Irish Guineas picture

Aidan O’Brien’s Joan Of Arc dominated the Irish 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown.

The 11-4 favourite, ridden by Ryan Moore, was in front after a furlong and stayed there without ever having to come under strong pressure.

Joan Of Arc was restating her case for a clutch of high-profile entries in top races over the coming months, having failed to build on her Curragh maiden victory when only sixth in a similar trial over seven furlongs here last month.

Up to a mile in this Group Three, the daughter of Galileo – a full-sister to Classic winners Gleneagles and Marvellous – always appeared in control and had a length and three-quarters in hand at the line.

Her nearest pursuer was 50-1 shot Flirting Bridge, with the same distance back to another outsider Thinking Of You (40-1) in third.

Paddy Power reacted by halving Joan Of Arc’s odds for both Royal Ascot’s Coronation Stakes (into 8-1) and the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom (into 10-1) next month.

O’Brien said: “The last day was a bit of a non-event for her, but she came out of it lovely.

“The plan was to come back here, and then maybe go to the Irish Guineas.

“Ryan said she might stay a bit further so we’re very happy with that. She’s a very relaxed filly.”

Maker Of Kings rules at Leopardstown

Maker Of Kings returned to winning form in first-time blinkers with an authoritative display in the Amethyst Stakes at Leopardstown.

Ger Lyons’ four-year-old was runner-up in the Irish Lincolnshire on his first start this season and was then a beaten odds-on favourite when he went down by a short head at Tipperary last month.

But he had no trouble with this rise in class to Group Three level, as the 7-1 winner under Colin Keane.

Maker Of Kings was soon up with the pace set by Raise You, then took over in the final two furlongs to assert by a length and a quarter – with Erzindjan staying on to get closest to him, a neck in front of 7-4 favourite Ace Aussie.

Lyons’ assistant and brother Shane said: “He’s a grand horse who ran well in the Lincoln. Colin said we should put headgear on, and it’s worked.

“He’s a fun horse for his owners. He loved the ground and will get further.

“We’ll probably put the headgear on and off. He just gets a bit lonely – and with the headwind today, it helped.”

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Eaglefield gave trainer Jim Bolger and jockey Kevin Manning a winning start on the card as he got off the mark at the second attempt in the opening John R Fitzpatrick Agricultural Contractor Maiden.

The Gleneagles gelding was second on his Gowran debut over this same trip of seven furlongs just four days ago.

Eaglefield and Kevin Manning (right) on the way to winning the John R Fitzpatrick Agricultural Contractor Maiden
Eaglefield and Kevin Manning (right) on the way to winning the John R Fitzpatrick Agricultural Contractor Maiden (Brian Lawless/PA)

He proved he was ready to go again, though, sitting just behind Jeroboam and clear of the rest before collaring the long-time leader in the final furlong and then just having enough left to hold on from closers Baldomero and Emilie Gray by a neck and a head.

The line came just in time for the 13-8 favourite, for whom there do not appear to be any big plans just yet.

Bolger’s daughter Una Manning said: “You’d be happy with him – Kevin said they went a right gallop the whole way, and he battled well.

“I’m told we’ll see how the handicapper treats him and go from there.”

Later in the final two races, the imposing Sir William Bruce and The Mediterranean completed a four-timer for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore.

The Ballydoyle trainer and jockey were responsible for a Group Three double as Bolshoi Ballet and Joan Of Arc posted resounding victories to signpost their respective big-race ambitions this season.

Sir William Bruce completed a Leopardstown treble for Ryan Moore and Aidan O'Brien
Sir William Bruce completed a Leopardstown treble for Ryan Moore and Aidan O’Brien (Brian Lawless/PA)

Then in the Cabinteely Handicap, Sir William Bruce got the better of his fellow three-year-olds too as he broke his duck on his handicap debut – and fourth career start.

Moore always had the 11-2 shot within striking distance before taking charge two furlongs out and staying on to hold on by a diminishing half length from Snowy Owl.

O’Brien said: “He’d a better run than it looked in Naas (beaten favourite in a maiden last month), because he had a very bad draw and hit a number of ridges down the back.

“He’s a grand horse, and anything from a mile and a quarter to a mile and a half would suit him. Ideally he’d prefer a more strongly-run race, but Ryan gave him a good ride and had him in a good position.

“We might go back for another handicap and give him time to progress.”

The Mediterranean had to battle hard to see off Ruling for victory in the closing Captain Dara Fitzpatrick Memorial Maiden by a length and a quarter as the 100-30 joint-favourite.

O’Brien said: “He’s a grand horse and we thought he’d come on plenty for it. We weren’t sure about the mile and a half as he was showing a bit of class at home, but he answered the question that he gets it.

“It was a good solid-run race so he would have learned a lot. There was no hiding place.”

Mac Swiney aiming to underline Classic claims in Derrinstown

A week on from teaming up to land the Qipco 2000 Guineas, Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning unleash another potential Classic contender at Leopardstown on Sunday when Mac Swiney returns to action for the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial.

The veteran trainer and jockey combination struck gold in a thrilling renewal of the Newmarket showpiece, with Poetic Flare following in the hoofprints of his sire Dawn Approach as he came out in top in a pulsating three-way finish.

Mac Swiney, winner of the Group One Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster on his final appearance as a juvenile, was also under consideration for the Guineas, but Bolger ultimately decided to split his aces.

“I’m very happy with Mac Swiney,” he said.

“I’m staying at a mile with Poetic Flare. He’s come out of Newmarket well and hopefully he’ll be ready to run for Paris (French 2000 Guineas) on Sunday week.

“Mac Swiney will be running over a mile and a quarter at Leopardstown and we’ll take it from there.”

The Coolcullen handler is hoping Mac Swiney can earn himself a shot at the Cazoo Derby at Epsom, which Bolger and Manning famously won with his sire New Approach in 2008.

Mac Swiney and jockey Kevin Manning after winning at the Curragh
Mac Swiney and jockey Kevin Manning after winning at the Curragh (PA)

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Although the chestnut colt’s high-profile juvenile wins in the Futurity Stakes at the Curragh and at Doncaster came in soft and heavy ground, Bolger would not be concerned by quicker conditions.

“He’ll go on any ground,” the trainer added.

Mac Swiney’s biggest threat appears to be Bolshoi Ballet, who will bid to provide Aidan O’Brien with his 14th Derrinstown victory.

Subsequent Epsom heroes Galileo (2001) and High Chaparral (2002) are among the former Ballydoyle superstars to win this key trial, as well as the brilliant stayer Yeats (2004).

Just like Galileo, High Chaparral and Yeats, Bolshoi Ballet lines up off the back of winning the Ballysax Stakes over the same course and distance four weeks ago.

Bolshoi Ballet (centre) winning the Ballysax Stakes
Bolshoi Ballet (centre) winning the Ballysax Stakes (PA)

O’Brien said: “It was always the plan to go for the Derrinstown after he won the Ballysax.

“Everything has gone well with him since and he seems to be in good form.

“We’re happy with him and looking forward to his run.”

O’Brien has a second string to his bow in Lough Derg, who won on his Dundalk debut before finishing fourth in the Ballysax, while son Donnacha saddles the sixth from the same race in Fernando Vichi and his brother Joseph runs course-and-distance winner Southern Lights.

Joseph O’Brien told Betfair: “Southern Lights is a gorgeous horse that we’ve always had high hopes for.

“We really liked his performance when he won a maiden over this course and distance last month. He is a very laid-back character and he seemed to wake up as the race progressed. It was a really pleasing performance.

“This is obviously a huge step up in class for him, but he has earned the chance to be tested in a race like this and we can’t wait to see how he measures up.”

Jessica Harrington’s Ballysax third Taipan, the Ger Lyons-trained Team Of Firsts and Bolger’s possible pacemaker Wexford Soil complete the line-up.

The Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial is preceded by two other Group Three contests in the Amethyst Stakes and the Irish 1,000 Guineas Trial.

Joseph O'Brien has a strong hand in the Amethyst Stakes
Joseph O’Brien has a strong hand in the Amethyst Stakes (PA)

The Amethyst field is headed by the Ado McGuinness-trained Bowerman and also features three runners from Joseph O’Brien’s yard in Numerian, Raise You and Snapraeterea.

“Raise You seems to have benefited from being gelded and made a winning return to action in a handicap at the Curragh last time. This is obviously a much stronger race, but he has the class to be competitive in this sort of company,” O’Brien added.

“Numerian has been a shade disappointing in his two runs this season, but he seems to be on his way back and has the form in the book to be competitive at this level.

“Snapraeterea hit the frame in a couple of Stakes races last season, but was a bit disappointing on his return to action at Leopardstown. He takes on his elders here and it is a stiff task on paper.”

The Lyons-trained Acanella bids to follow up an impressive debut success over the course and distance in the Guineas Trial, with Paddy Twomey’s Fantasy Lady and Dermot Weld’s Curragh scorer Shandra among her rivals.

Mac Swiney on course for Derrinstown return

Jim Bolger’s firm belief that he has two star colts on his hands this season could be further advertised at Leopardstown on Sunday, with Mac Swiney set to carry his hopes in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial.

Stablemate Poetic Flare has already won the Qipco 2000 Guineas, and the County Carlow trainer has been keen to stress he finds it hard to split the pair – a statement with which jockey Kevin Manning concurred at Newmarket on Saturday.

Speaking after the Guineas, Manning – asked to compare Mac Swiney and Poetic Flare – said: “The two of them have been working well, and I rode the two of them on the grass in two separate bits of work three weeks ago and Jim asked the question and said if both turn up (at Newmarket) which would you ride – and I said ‘I don’t know’.”

A son of Bolger’s Derby winner New Approach, Mac Swiney took Group One honours when beating One Ruler in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster in October.

Chief among his potential opposition this weekend is the Aidan O’Brien-trained Bolshoi Ballet, winner of the Ballysax Stakes on his reappearance.

The Ballysax-Derrinstown route is one familiar to O’Brien with his Derby runners – Galileo winning both races on the way to glory in the premier Classic 20 years ago, while High Chaparral did likewise 12 months later.

Bolshoi Ballet winning the Ballysax Stakes under Ryan Moore
Bolshoi Ballet winning the Ballysax Stakes under Ryan Moore (PA)

O’Brien has also entered Derby favourite High Definition, although he is thought more likely to run at Lingfield on Saturday. Chester defector Sir Lamorak is another among the possibles, which total 15 at the entry stage.

There are also 15 in the Irish 1,000 Guineas Trial, including the Ger Lyons-trained Acanella.

The Juddmonte-owned Dansili filly looked potentially smart in beating Jessica Harrington’s Climate – who could reoppose – over this course and distance last month.

The other highlight on a top-class card is the Amethyst Stakes – which features the O’Brien-trained Lancaster House, among 11 entries.

O’Brien looking towards Lockinge with Lope Y Fernandez

Lope Y Fernandez comfortably produced a long-awaited victory when taking the one-mile Listed Heritage Stakes at Leopardstown.

The four-year-old was twice a winner in his juvenile season, claiming the Group Three Round Tower Stakes at the Curragh and placing twice behind Godolphin’s champion two-year-old Pinatubo.

Success as a three-year-old was elusive, however, as the bay gamely plied his trade in Ireland, England, France and America and was unable to bring home a triumph.

A move to slightly less exalted company left him the 4-6 favourite at Leopardstown, an estimation he readily justified when cruising to a five-and-a-half-length win under Seamie Heffernan.

“Last year we messed around with his trip a good bit,” trainer Aidan O’Brien explained.

“We didn’t learn what it was until the end at the Breeders Cup.

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“He’s a miler and you take your time with him.

“He’s at his best when he’s able to quicken and likes nice ground.

“We’re thinking about going to the Lockinge with him, then possibly the Queen Anne Stakes.”

Running gallantly in second was Ado McGuinness’ consistent Saltonstall, with 50-1 chance Koolasice coming home in third place for Leigh Roche and Ross O’Sullivan.

Acanella looked a smart performer in the making with her victory in the Leopardstown Racecourse Fillies Maiden.

Having her first start, the Ger Lyons-trained three-year-old was the 2-1 favourite in the Juddmonte silks and stayed on strongly through the final furlong to beat Climate by two lengths.

Lyons was represented by his brother, Shane, who said: “She did today what we have seen at home. We’ve always liked her, she’s very professional and has a marvellous pedigree.

“We didn’t think she would be ready to run until the middle of May, but being by Dansili we took advantage of the little bit of juice in the ground. It’s beautiful ground here.

“We’ll look forward to her. What they have in mind for her I’m not sure, but it’s going to be exciting because that’s what she has been showing us at home.”

Dermot Weld has another nice prospect on his hands
Dermot Weld has another nice prospect on his hands (PA)

Acanella was the second leg of a double for Colin Keane, who won with another promising filly in the shape of Alazenya in the opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden – a race trainer Dermot Weld won with subsequent Breeders’ Cup heroine Tarnawa in 2019.

Sent off at 100-30, the daughter of Siyouni hit the front with a furlong to run and had half a length in hand of La Joconde at the line.

Weld said: “She’s a nice filly and has been working nicely at home. Colin liked her the other morning when she worked. Obviously first time out there is a little bit of inexperience and greenness, but she’s a very nice filly.

“We’ll see how she progresses before we decide where to go, but obviously we will be looking for a bit of black type with her.

“That trip (10 furlongs) is good for the moment. She has plenty of pace and the dam stayed well. Later in the year this filly might go a mile and a half.”

Bolshoi Ballet second-favourite for Derby after authoritative Ballysax success

Bolshoi Ballet enhanced his Classic claims as he provided trainer Aidan O’Brien with an 11th victory in the P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown.

The Ballydoyle handler saddled subsequent Epsom heroes Galileo and High Chaparral to land successive runnings of the Derby trial in 2001 and 2002, while four-time Gold Cup winner Yeats also features on the roll of honour.

O’Brien was doubly represented in this year’s renewal, with Dundalk maiden winner Lough Derg joined by stablemate Bolshoi Ballet – a winner at the track in the autumn before finishing fifth at Group One level in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud.

Aidan O’Brien was thrilled with the performance of Bolshoi Ballet
Aidan O’Brien was thrilled with the performance of Bolshoi Ballet (PA)

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Ryan Moore kept things simple aboard the 2-1 favourite, allowing him to track the pacesetting Catena Zapata for much of the 10-furlong journey before taking over the lead two furlongs from home.

Lough Derg found a gap on the fence and briefly looked a threat, but Bolshoi Ballet hit the line strongly to score by just over two lengths. Lough Derg was run out of the places late on by Flying Visit and Taipan.

Coral make Bolshoi Ballet their 12-1 second-favourite for the Cazoo Derby at Epsom, with stable companion High Definition heading the market at 7-2.

O’Brien said: “You’d be delighted with him as he only ran on soft ground (last season) and will have learned a lot today.

“He’ll probably come back here for the Derrinstown if all goes well with him. He’s straightforward and, while you’re never sure, he should get a mile and a half. He goes to the line well.

Derby favourite High Definition is reported to be in good form
Derby favourite High Definition is reported to be in good form (PA)

“High Definition will go for one of the Derby trials. We didn’t want to give him two runs before the Derby, but we thought this horse would be able for two.

“He’s in full work and we’re very happy with him.”

O’Brien also had news on the Classic front of Santa Barbara, who has been all the rage for the Qipco 1000 Guineas in recent weeks after her trainer gave her a glowing report in a stable tour.

He said: “Santa Barbara is working very well. She’s going through her work in second gear with all the fillies.

“We were going to come here and then we said we’d go straight for the Guineas.

“It’s a big ask for a filly only after having one easy run in a maiden to go to the Guineas. She looks exceptional in her work, but she’ll be very green going to a Guineas. She’ll learn a lot either ways.”

Looking to the Newmarket meeting that starts on Tuesday, O’Brien added: “We might run Khartoum in the Craven on Thursday.”

Keeper Of Time provides Johnny Feane with landmark winner

Keeper Of Time clung on for a shock victory in the Ballylinch Stud “Priory Belle” 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown.

The daughter of Mehmas was a widely unconsidered 80-1 chance for the Group Three contest, having finished fifth in a Curragh handicap on her first start for trainer Johnny Feane three weeks ago.

However, ridden by Ronan Whelan, Keeper Of Time displayed a smart change of gear to come from the middle of pack and grab the lead in the final furlong – and she had just enough in the tank to repel the thrusting late challenge of Mehnah by a head.

Shale, the 7-2 favourite on the strength of a Group One win in the Moyglare Stud Stakes last season, could finish only fifth.

It was a first Group-race winner for Feane, who said: “Kevin Manning thought she ran a cracker in the Madrid at the Curragh. She’s toughed it out well today.

“Ronan gave her a lovely ride, settled her in and came with a run. We’re thrilled with her.

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“The better ground helped – she wants good ground. She’s probably a filly that would suit America or somewhere like that.

“There were offers for her before, but there will probably be more on the table after this.”

He added: “We had a Listed winner last year, but that would be our biggest winner so far.”

Aidan O’Brien with Sir Lamorak at Leopardstown
Aidan O’Brien with Sir Lamorak at Leopardstown (PA)

Aidan O’Brien saddled two winners on the card, with Bolshoi Ballet’s impressive Ballysax Stakes success backed up by victory for Sir Lamorak in the Leopardstown Handicap.

Successful at Dundalk a couple of weeks ago, the son of Camelot followed up with a smart-looking display as the 9-4 favourite.

Like Bolshoi Ballet, Sir Lamorak appears bound for a Derby trial.

O’Brien said: “We’re delighted with him. He had a few lovely runs last year and then in Dundalk this year it was a very slowly-run race and he was green. He had a nice gap from there to here and it worked out perfect for him.

“He’ll probably step up into one of the (Derby) trials next I would imagine. He settles well and is a real Camelot – he has that bit of brilliance that he can quicken.”

Shane Foley and O’Reilly after winning at Leopardstown
Shane Foley and O’Reilly after winning at Leopardstown (PA)

Jessica Harrington’s O’Reilly (85-40) opened his account with a hard-fought success in the Leopardstown Maiden.

Runner-up on his debut at this venue in October, the Frankel colt when one better by getting the better of 7-4 favourite HMS Seahorse by half a length under Shane Foley.

Kate Harrington, assistant to her mother, said: “He took a bit of a blow and there should be plenty of improvement to come.

“We had him in at Navan, but took him out because of the ground. He really appreciated that ground today.

“We’ll take baby steps with him and step him up to a mile and a quarter. In a better quality race he’ll travel well.”

Harrington and Foley doubled up with 4-1 favourite Real Appeal in the Leopardstown Members Handicap.

Poetic Flare is Guineas-bound after impressive Leopardstown display

Poetic Flare underlined his Classic credentials with an impressive display in the Ballylinch Stud “Red Rocks” 2,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown.

A son of trainer Jim Bolger’s multiple Group One winner Dawn Approach, Poetic Flare won twice from three juvenile starts last season, including a course and distance success in October’s Killavullan Stakes.

Making his first appearance since, the three-year-old was a 3-1 shot for this Listed assignment and was always travelling strongly towards the head of affairs.

Ace Aussie came from a long way back to grab the runner-up spot late on, but never threatened to lay a glove on Poet Flare, who had already quickened up smartly to seal a one-and-a-half-length victory in the hands of Kevin Manning.

Bolger was represented by his daughter, Una Manning, who said: “I’m told he could go anywhere. He (Bolger) hasn’t decided which of the Guineas, but the two of them (Poetic Flare and Mac Swiney) won’t run in the same race. The boss is very happy with them.

“He hasn’t been away anywhere this year for a gallop so he’s absolutely delighted.

“We were confident he wouldn’t have any problems handling the ground. Last year we just had to play the cards we were dealt and he had to run on soft ground, but he’s not ground dependent.

“He’s in both Guineas along with Mac Swiney. We haven’t decided yet whether he’ll go to Newmarket or the Curragh, but the two of them won’t run in the same race.”

Coral cut Poetic Flare to 20-1 from 33-1 for Newmarket on May 1, with Betfair 16-1 from 25-1.