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Snowfall pours it on at the Curragh for Oaks double

Snowfall gave another blistering performance to became the 15th filly to complete the English/Irish Oaks double at the Curragh.

Aidan O’Brien’s filly had blitzed her rivals at Epsom to win by a record margin of 16 lengths and she produced a similar display on home soil in the Juddmonte-sponsored Irish equivalent.

Having scared off a lot of the opposition, Snowfall was the 2-7 favourite and she did not disappoint.

The early running was made by one of her three stablemates, La Joconde, in the eight-runner line-up, with Nicest and Willow close up.

Ryan Moore had Snowfall just off the pace until the field turned for home and it was not long before she made her move – and once she hit the front two furlongs out there was only going to be one outcome.

Snowfall opened up and was simply away and gone from the others, scoring by eight and a half lengths to provide O’Brien with a sixth triumph in the race.

Divinely was second to give the Ballydoyle handler a one-two. Nicest, trained by O’Brien’s son, Donnacha, was half a length away in third.

Snowfall was cut to 4-1 from 5-1 for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with Coral and 4-1 from 11-2 with Paddy Power.

O’Brien said: “She’s very smart and she has a lot of quality.

“We purposely let her down a little bit from Epsom because the season is going to roll on and it was soft ground at Epsom.

“The plan was to come here, go on to the Yorkshire Oaks and then she’d be ready for the autumn.

“I’m delighted with her and she’s done very well from Epsom physically, she’s got very big and strong.

“Ryan said she has a lot of speed. She goes very strong and she finishes out very well.

“We’ll go one race at a time now, the Yorkshire Oaks first.”

On her two-year-old form, O’Brien said: “She’s a filly that always had a lot of natural ability and we had to get her to relax a little bit so we didn’t worry too much about it as we were always concentrating on switching her off.

Snowfall looks a picture at the Curragh
Snowfall looks a picture at the Curragh (PA)

“Things went against her. Her first run was over five and a half furlongs in Navan and Mother Earth was second.

“Then she came back here to a maiden and Seamus (Heffernan) nearly fell off her. That’s why it took a few runs to win a maiden and it might have been a blessing in disguise as she became very mature and grown up from it mentally.

“Because she was busy early in the season it might have took its toll at the end of the season – even though she was perfect mentally, physically she had a good few runs.

“Herself and Mother Earth ran in the Fillies’ Mile and we were nearly siding with her over Mother Earth. That’s what we always thought of her.

“She’s a home-bred for the lads as well, she has some pedigree.

“We always thought fast ground was her thing and I was very worried in Epsom about her with that ground.”

Mooneista sparkles in Sapphire Stakes

Mooneista gave trainer Jack Davison his biggest success when storming home in the Group Two Paddy Power Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh.

The three-year-old came with a blistering run to complete a quick Group-race double for jockey Colin Keane after he had steered Beauty Inspire to victory in the Anglesey Stakes.

Mooneista (10-1) was held up in the early stages as Strong Johnson set the pace, with Make A Challenge, Gustavus Weston and Logo Hunter prominent.

It was all change in the final furlong as Mooneista burst on the scene to stamp his authority on proceedings and win by a length and a quarter. Gustavus Weston was second with Romantic Proposal third, a further two and three-quarter lengths away.

“I’m never short of words and this filly is able to walk the walk which is really good for both of us, she has backed me up,” said Davison.

“I’ve thought highly of her from her early days. To get her to develop and come and win these type of races on a big weekend is really pleasing.

“Colin is as cool as you like and he said it was a matter of pushing the button. He felt like he had loads of horse under him the whole way. She’s a little monster really.

“She’s in the Flying Five on Champions weekend so we’ll have a crack at that all going well.

“She’s ground versatile. There isn’t a whole lot of her so (Royal) Ascot was too soft, she can’t operate on that as she’s very quick. The easy side of good is probably perfect.

“This is absolutely huge. It’s a really tough game and it’s very hard to get these horses. I’m very lucky to have her.”

The County Meath-based handler went on: “We’ve 25 of them and we put a lot into training all of them. It’s just nice when you have one that can compete and win at this level. It really just keeps you going and encourages you to push forward.

“For me it’s about quality rather than quantity. It’s just so competitive in Ireland and I don’t see myself training low-grade horses in 10 or 15 years, trying to compete at that level.

“We are working hard to try to up the quality the whole time. We have some nice fillies and support from good owners.”

Beauty Inspire stays unbeaten at the Curragh

Beauty Inspire got on top in the closing stages to maintain his unbeaten record in the Jebel Ali Racecourse And Stables Anglesey Stakes at the Curragh.

Ger Lyons’ two-year-old backed up his course success three weeks earlier to bag the Group Three prize over six and a half furlongs in determined fashion.

Sent off the 1-2 favourite it was only in the final half-furlong Beauty Inspire asserted after Hadman had made the running.

The Mehmas colt appreciated the slightly extra distance from his debut to win by a length and a quarter from Andreas Vesalius in the hands of Colin Keane.

Shane Lyons, assistant to his brother, said: “He wasn’t as visually as impressive as the first day, but the first day was only a maiden.

“To be honest it looks like he hasn’t learned an awful lot from the first day. He was very keen in the race and probably disappointed himself a little, as he’s a horse that can’t hit the front too soon because he’s still a baby.

“He did fight for Colin after. He’s a Christian at home and he’s obviously a very good horse.”

Asked about plans, he added: “We’ll take him home and let him tell us when he’s ready again. It could be the Phoenix or the Middle Park. He has entries in York as well.

“We think he’ll come on an awful lot from that, it’s only his second race. It’s a tough ask to come out there and do that and he’s done it.

“Colin said he loved the ground, which is a help. He’s a lovely horse – we knew that the first day – and we would have been disappointed today if he had been beaten.”

Beauty Inspire was cut to 33-1 from 50-1 for the 2000 Guineas with Betfair and Paddy Power.

Major Power and Danny Sheehy on the way to winning the Paddy Power Scurry Handicap
Major Power and Danny Sheehy on the way to winning the Paddy Power Scurry Handicap (Brian Lawless/PA)

Major Power was a shock 50-1 winner of the Paddy Power Scurry Handicap.

Ridden by 3lb claimer Danny Sheehy, the Edward Lynam-trained grey held the late challenge of Hightimeyouwon by a head to land the €59,000 first prize.

“I heard they were all backing the other horse, Rough Diamond. He ran OK but probably wouldn’t be battle hardened,” said Lynam.

“It’s nice to get and I’m delighted. If he could turn out as good as the one that won it last year (Romantic Proposal) we’d be doing all right, but that might be a bit hopeful.

“I’m delighted to win with him. He was a good horse for the Friday nights at Dundalk.

“I’ve been moaning to Garry O’Gorman (handicapper) that he’s too high on the turf, so I’d say his turf rating will go back up to the same as his all-weather rating.”

Georgie Benson steered Elite Trooper Grey (14-1) to victory in the Kildare Village Ladies Derby Handicap.

The five-year-old, trained by Denise Foster, had not run on the Flat for 645 days but had a spin over hurdles just 16 days earlier.

She emerged late on the scene to beat Crassus by a length and a quarter, with Drayton Cross three and a quarter lengths away in third.

Georgie Benson gave Elite Trooper Grey a fine ride
Georgie Benson gave Elite Trooper Grey a fine ride (Brian Lawless/PA)

“He loved that good ground, the uphill finish and the sun on his back,” said Foster.

“She gave him a great ride. She held on to him and when she brought him a little bit wide he just went ‘oh, I’m gone’. It was a very good ride.

“She was so composed. She’s ridden in point-to-points and rides out in Cullentra a lot. She’d be one of the good work riders and schools over fences as well. She’s a very accomplished rider. That was great to see her do that.”

Foster added: “He’s a lovely horse and there should be something for him in Galway. It’s lovely to have a dual-purpose horse like that who can do both.

“He’s a quality horse and he enjoyed that. Getting his head in front will make him feel good about himself.”

Dinard Rose (4-1) gave trainer Nina Walsh her first success on the Flat when regaining the lead close home in the Aquaturf Handicap.

Ever Present looked like taking her 100 per cent record to three when heading Dinard Rose in the final furlong – but the latter rallied in game fashion for 3lb claimer Andrew Slattery to get the verdict by half a length.

Dinard Rose gets the better of Ever Present at the Curragh
Dinard Rose gets the better of Ever Present at the Curragh (Brian Lawless/PA)

Walsh said: “I’m delighted, that’s brilliant. This is where I had my first winner as a jockey and it’s nice to have my first winner on the Flat here.

“I’m delighted she’s come back to form and delighted to have her back.

“I basically just have her to run. I had a point-to-pointer that I didn’t sell as a store, but he won in the spring so I only have her.

“I’m delighted to trick around with her and she’s a great lead for the young horses. She’s a great yardstick.

“Noel (Meade) did a brilliant job with her. I’ve moved back up home and that’s why I took her as I had time to do my own thing with her, and I had my licence.

“I said I might as well take her back and I’m delighted I did as I get a bit of fun out of her. She’s been running consistently.”

Walsh trained the winner of a steeplechase, Blaze of Fire, at Killarney eight years ago under her maiden name of Nina Carberry.

Point Lonsdale bound for Chesham assignment after striking Curragh debut

Point Lonsdale looked an exciting recruit to Aidan O’Brien’s juvenile team when making an impressive racecourse debut at the Curragh.

The full-brother to Group Two winner and stablemate Broome could even prove a bargain buy at the 575,000 guineas he cost as a yearling after he comprehensively disposed of the opposition in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF (C&G) Maiden over seven furlongs, earning a tilt at the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Smartly away from stall one, Point Lonsdale, the 7-4 favourite, was always at the head of affairs with market rival Barud alongside him in the early stages.

However, Dermot Weld’s charge, who had the experience of a previous run, was shrugged aside at the business end of the contest.

Point Lonsdale asserted in grand style to score by five and a half lengths from Unconquerable. Mannix was half a length away in third place with Barud fourth.

O’Brien said: “He was working very smart and we wanted to get him out as we felt he was a horse for the Chesham. That’s what we think of him.

“He shows everything at home. He travels, he quickens and relaxes – all the right stuff.”

Dr Zempf came from last to first to strike at the first attempt with an equally-eyecatching display in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Race – with connections nominating the Group Two Railway Stakes as his next race.

A 420,000 guineas purchase at Tattersalls, the Ger Lyons-trained colt travelled sweetly in behind as Missing Nation took the six-strong field along.

Dr Zempf is going the Siskin route
Dr Zempf is going the Siskin route (PA)

Hadman made an early bid for victory with the 7-4 favourite Elliptic also coming through following a tardy start.

The final furlong turned into a duel between Dr Zempf (5-2) and Elliptic, with the former, ridden by Colin Keane, comfortably getting on top to win by two and a quarter lengths.

Shane Lyons, assistant to his brother, said: “He’s a lovely horse and is after doing that very well. He took it in very well beforehand and during the race he was very professional.

“We’ll take him home and see how he comes out of the race. He will improve as today was his first day seeing grass. Most likely the next race will be the Railway Stakes – the Siskin route.”

The Lyons team doubled up when Reve De Vol finished best of all to take the Listed Sky Bet Orby Stakes.

O’Reilly led them in the 10-furlong affair and stuck to his guns throughout, as Geometrical and then Patrick Sarsfield put down strong challenges.

It looked like the latter had just about done enough, only for Reve De Vol to fly home once Keane had switched and got a clear run approaching the furlong pole. A head was the winning margin at the line over Patrick Sarsfield, with O’Reilly another half-length back in third.

Shane Lyons said: “That was a very good performance. Colin said a very true-run mile and two would be right up his street. There was a bit of cat and mouse there today.

“Colin was able to fill him and try to get a gap out. He hit the line hard and it’s a nice race to win.

“He’s bred to get a mile and a half, but Colin said a true-run mile and two would suit so if he keeps winning then we’ll keep him at that.”

Crowd to return during Irish Derby meeting

A limited number of racegoers will be able to attend the Curragh on Dubai Irish Derby weekend, after it was announced as a pilot event by the Irish Taoiseach.

Speaking at the Government buildings in Dublin, Taoiseach Micheal Martin confirmed as part of a widespread reopening of the country this summer there will also be a number of pilot sporting and cultural events taking place in June and early July, to test the logistical requirements for further easing of coronavirus restrictions.

He did, though, urge the public to “remain vigilant against the terrible virus”.

As Martin unveiled the Government’s plans over June, July and August, he said that the reopening of society and the economy will depend on Irish people following the guidelines in place.

The Curragh welcomed the news of racegoers being allowed back for its showpiece meeting, posting on the course’s official Twitter account: “With the excellent news from the Taoiseach this evening on the reopening of the country, we are delighted that The Curragh is to stage a trial event on
@DubaiDutyFree Irish Derby Weekend.

“A great next step. We cannot wait to have owners and racing fans back here at The Curragh.”

Mullins plots middle-distance path for Princess Zoe

Princess Zoe may start her 2021 campaign in the Alleged Stakes at the Curragh in April.

Trainer Tony Mullins is thinking of dropping his Group One-winning stayer down to a mile and a quarter, because he believes she does not need extreme distances to bring out her best.

Princess Zoe made remarkable progress last year, winning five races in a row culminating in the Group One Prix du Cadran over two and a half miles at ParisLongchamp – twice the distance of the Alleged Stakes.

However, Mullins is keen to see how she performs at middle distances.

“We’re looking at the Alleged Stakes,” the Gowran trainer said in an interview posted on his Twitter account.

“It’s only a mile and a quarter. I don’t know if it’s a winnable distance for her at that level, but we’re going to try it.

“I have always been adamant that she’s as good at a mile and a half as she is at two and a half – so we’re going to set about proving it. If we’re wrong we’ll switch back and use distance races, but her work has shown me she is a Group filly at a mile and a half – and we intend to prove it to the public.”

Princess Zoe was last seen in October, when her winning run ended with honourable defeat over just short of two miles as she tried to double her Group One tally in the Prix Royal-Oak at ParisLongchamp.

Preparation for the grey mare’s six-year-old campaign is under way, however.

“She’s done loads of slow work in very soft ground and will probably go away now,” added Mullins.

“Jim Bolger very kindly lets us work in his place so she might go there or up the Old Vic on the Curragh and then we’ll decide the next move after the first piece of work.”