India too hot at the Curragh
A review of the early action from the Curragh, where East India made a winning debut for Aidan O'Brien in the opener.
East India produced a telling turn of foot to make a winning debut for Aidan O'Brien in the Darley European Breeders Fund Maiden at the Curragh.
The seven-furlong contest has been a breeding ground of champions in recent seasons, with Derby hero Australia successful last year for the Ballydoyle team.
Other previous winners include Jim Bolger-trained pair Teofilo and New Approach, while Sea The Stars suffered the only defeat of his career when fourth on his racecourse introduction in 2008.
With stable companion St Patrick's Day all the rage as the 4/6 favourite after an encouraging debut second at Naas, East India was an 11-2 shot in the hands of Seamie Heffernan.
I Will Excel attempted to make the most of experience edge, drawing the sting out of his rivals halfway up the straight, but he was mowed down late by both East India and Mick Halford's newcomer Portage.
The latter was arguably finishing the stronger of the two, but East India passed the post a neck to the good, with I Will Excel running a fine race in third.
St Patrick's Day was unable to pick up and faded out of contention disappointingly.
O'Brien said: "I'm delighted. He was working like a nice horse and was just ready to start.
"Seamie took his time on him and relaxed him in the first half of the race. The idea was to give him a nice education and see what happens. He picked up really well.
"He's a very well-bred horse and we'll look for a winner's race or a Listed race now. He's a horse who'll get further than seven furlongs.
"We'll see what comes up, but he wouldn't have any bother stepping up, I would say."
O'Brien added: "The Tyros might come too soon next Thursday, but there are races like the Futurity that would suit."
Heffernan said: "You'd have to love the way he quickened up there, he's a really smart juvenile."
Hi Emperor lunged late to chin Akasaka in the Marker Hotel Handicap. Toccata Blue took the field along for some way on the rail, but was closely tracked by Caroline Murtagh on Akasaka, who edged to the front a quarter of a mile from home.
The challengers loomed large but just as it seemed Akasaka and his young rider had seen off all-comers, Fran Berry finished fast and wide on the David Marnane-trained Hi Emperor (6-1) to nick the seven-furlong prize by a neck.Marnane said: "He was a little bit unlucky the last day. He's been running well all year and he's improving. He's still a big, clueless baby.
"He seems better when he gets a bit of daylight and was better when he got out wide in the clear.
"I thought the lack of pace might have beaten him at halfway, but he switched out and did it well.
"We'll see what the handicapper does, but we may look at the (Irish) Cambridgeshire." Shanooan bounced back to form with a gutsy display in the O'Briens Wines EBF Fillies Handicap.
George Kent's 14/1 chance had been well beaten in a couple of Listed races most recently, but the switch back to handicaps did the trick as Connor King pushed her into the lead over two furlongs out.
Sretaw, who found her path blocked on more than one occasion, gave chase once in the clear, but Shanooan had enough in hand to score by three-quarters of a length.
Kent, who has taken over from his father George, said: "This is my first winner under my own licence and it's nice to get it here.
"It's been lucky for us here. We won the Group Three on this card with Custom Cut two years ago.
"This filly likes the straight mile, things fell right and Connor gave her a lovely ride. He didn't disappoint her and kept things simple.
"She loves that ground, being American-bred."
Ansgar cut out virtually every yard of the running in the hands of Pat Smullen to land the Group Three Michael Murphy Home Furnishings Minstrel Stakes.
Sabrina Harty's 8/1 shot was fast out of the stalls in the seven-furlong contest and Smullen was happy to play the role of pacemaker.
O'Brien's 6/4 favourite Darwin, turning out just six days after winning at Fairyhouse, loomed up ominously under the trainer's son Joseph , but was unable to reel in Ansgar who passed the post a length to the good.
The hard-luck story of the race was that of Eastern Rules, who found himself trapped behind a wall of horses before flying home against the far rail to finish third.
Harty said: "That was fantastic and the horse really deserves it.
"He's had so many hold-ups. He had a kissing spine last year and sore shins a couple of years ago. He got a splint in May and was lame after Ascot.
"He's a proper horse considering all the problems he's had. He's a massive horse, he's 16 hands 2 and he's been growing and growing.
"I'm delighted for the owners. He's a machine and if he hadn't had all the problems he'd have been a special one.
"He's entered in the Group Three at Leopardstown on August 14 (Desmond Stakes) and that's his target."
Dick Whittington edged out old rival Toscanini in a thrilling climax to the Jebel Ali Racecourse & Stables Anglesey Stakes.
Toscanini finished narrowly ahead of Dick Whittington when the pair finished second and third respectively behind Richard Pankhurst in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot and the pair were 2-1 joint-favourites for the rematch.
Toscanini was in the firing line from flag-fall, with Joseph O'Brien waiting until the final furlong before unleashing Dick Whittington.
Toscanini stuck to his guns admirably against the rail, but the Ballydoyle runner wore him down to take the Group Three prize by half a length.
Rapid Applause came through to finish third, with Queen Mary Stakes third Newsletter a disappointing last of five runners.
O'Brien snr said: "He's a fast horse. Five or six furlongs looks his trip. I think it would be tight to get a mile with him.
"I'm delighted and we'll look at something like the Phoenix Stakes with him."