Hannibal Barca struck on his first run for Joseph O’Brien when claiming the Heider Family Stables Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh.
Fourth in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster for Brian Meehan, the Zoffany colt subsequently changed hands and joined O’Brien’s Kilkenny base in the autumn.
The 7-4 favourite for the Group Three contest under Shane Crosse, Hannibal Barca was a one-length winner as Johnny Murtagh’s Lyrical Poetry finished second and the Jim Bolger-trained Boundless Ocean came home third after meeting all sorts of trouble in running.
The stewards looked into possible interference in the closing stages of the 10-furlong affair, but left the placings unaltered.
“He was obviously a good two-year-old, we just had a little hold up so we ended up starting today,” said O’Brien.
“I’m delighted to get the season started off nicely with him. Thanks to Mick (Donohoe, bloodstock agent) for trusting me with him and hopefully he’s a horse that can go forward from here.
“I thought he did well because I thought it set up for the horses closer to the speed. Shane had to move out to get a clear run and I thought he gave him a good ride the way the race worked out tactically.
“He hit the line well and I think it was a good enough performance. Coming here I wasn’t sure how far we would be going but looking at the race you’d be going further rather than shorter.”
When asked if he could take up his engagement in the Irish Derby, he added: “He also has options in Ascot and I’d imagine it will be one or the other.”
Aidan O’Brien’s Waterville remains a maiden after his third racecourse appearance ended in defeat as Vellner, trained by Paddy Twomey, landed the William Hill Lengthen Your Odds Irish EBF (C&G) Maiden.
Waterville was at one stage an Epsom Derby hopeful but was beaten five lengths on his debut at the Curragh and was then second next time out in a Leopardstown maiden.
Meanwhile Vellner finished fourth in two successive Cork maidens, but it was Twomey’s Galileo Gold colt who triumphed by one and a quarter lengths at the Curragh as Waterville finished third as the 10-11 favourite.
“He’s been green and his behaviour was terrible the first day. He improved a little bit the second day and I thought coming here today it would take a good one to beat him,” Twomey said of his 11-4 chance.
“My friend Adrian Costello bought him as a foal and the day he bought him I loved him.
“He’s a lovely horse and I’d say that’s only the start. We’ll see what happens now.”
Fozzy Stack’s Papilio could return to the Curragh for a Group-race assignment after winning the Irish EBF Auction Series Maiden at 9-1 under Wayne Lordan.
Making her racecourse debut, the bay daughter of Starspanglebanner was not the quickest out of the stalls but made headway to race in mid-division and stayed on to prevail by a length and three-quarters.
“She’s a nice filly and she wasn’t getting any fillies’ allowance there,” said Stack.
“She’s worked well consistently, she’s probably a filly in time that will want seven or a mile to be fair to her. She’s out of a High Chaparral mare so hopefully she’ll stretch out a bit.
“She has a great mind and does everything very straightforward. We could probably look at the Silver Flash or the Balanchine Stakes back here.
“Wayne liked her, he said she hit a bit of a flat spot at the two pole and that he got there too soon. He said he got to the line without hitting top gear.”