Mac Swiney and Pretty Gorgeous star at Curragh

Make A Challenge wins at the Curragh

Mac Swiney returned to form for a shock victory in the Galileo Irish EBF Futurity Stakes at the Curragh.

Jim Bolger’s juvenile had managed only ninth of 10 in this month’s Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown, having previously looked a youngster going places when he beat the well-regarded Wembley in a maiden over this course and distance.

The return to the Curragh did the trick, as Mac Swiney belied his starting price of 28-1 to pounce late as both he and 4-5 favourite Cadillac surged past Ontario on either side of the long-time leader.

Mac Swiney showed just the best turn of foot to beat Jessica Harrington’s Cadillac by half a length, with the same distance back to Ontario in fourth.

He was winning a race which has been dominated by Aidan O’Brien since Bolger and Manning last won the Group Two affair five years ago.

The same trainer-and-jockey partnership were also on the mark with Mac Swiney’s sire, and subsequent Epsom Derby winner New Approach, back in 2007.

Bolger’s daughter, Una Manning, wife of the winning jockey, said: “We’re delighted with that run.

“He did it well on (soft) ground he wouldn’t really appreciate.”

A return to the Curragh and move up to Group One level is now in the offing, with connections hoping Mac Swiney – who was given a 40-1 quote by Paddy Power for Epsom – can continue to follow his sire’s path.

Manning added: “The plan now is to go for the National Stakes. When he won here the last time (dad) thought he was his Derby horse.

“We’re very pleased with him, he was very good. It seemed to be a strong race today.

“Hopefully we can get a good result in the National Stakes now, and go from there.”

Up to the Challenge

Make A Challenge outclassed his rivals to win the A.R.M. Holding Curragh Sprint Stakes with ease.

Denis Hogan’s course specialist took his winning tally to five at the Curragh, sitting off the pace initially but challenging inside the last two furlongs and then storming clear under Joe Doyle.

The 9-4 winner never needed to come under serious pressure and had four lengths to spare at the line from 20-1 shot Downforce, with Schroders Mistake a neck further back in third at 66-1.

Make A Challenge, previously second to A’Ali in the Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh, has more high-profile targets in his sights after this six-furlong Listed success.

Hogan said: “That was impressive. I wasn’t expecting that, to be honest. I was expecting Speak In Colours (6-5 favourite, sixth) to give us a right test and probably beat us.

“I thought we were always better over five, but that is his ground. There aren’t too many horses that would live with him on that ground, he just motors through it.

“This was only a stepping stone to the Flying Five here on Champions Weekend. He’s in Tipperary during the week in a Listed race.

“We don’t work him much at home. He’s been coming here, picking up prize-money and using races to step to another race.

“We just feel he’s better fresh like that and he’s had a little break, I’d say he’s really freshened up well.

“This time last year he came alive and hopefully he is coming good again.”

He added: “There is a good programme. There is the Flying Five, the Abbaye and Champions Day at Ascot. We’ll look at the three of them.

“It’s great for Joe as well, he’s having a good run of it. Hopefully it keeps raining and if the horses keep running like that I’ll be happy.

“I wouldn’t say Battaash is unbeatable, but he’s going to be very hard to beat. You’d be disappointed that A’Ali didn’t show more (in the Nunthorpe) as he beat us here, but that was on better ground.

“Obviously we are better on this type of ground.”

Gorgeous win in Debutante

Pretty Gorgeous impressed in the A.R.M. Holding Debutante Stakes at the Curragh, as she gained her revenge on Shale to pick up Group Two honours.

Having been successful first time out at Bellewstown, the Joseph O’Brien-trained winner was second to his brother Donnacha’s Shale when they met at Leopardstown – but she put the record straight in some style on this occasion.

Still travelling sweetly for Shane Crosse with two furlongs to run, it came down to a brief tussle between the pair before the 3-1 winner asserted from the furlong pole and went to score by two and a half lengths from the 7-4 favourite.

Mother Earth was the same distance back in third.

The Curragh race has a strong record of producing subsequent Group One winners – with Alpine Star being victorious 12 months ago – and the daughter of Lawman heads the early market for next year’s 1000 Guineas at 14-1 with Betfair and Paddy Power.

O’Brien said: “She’s a very good filly. We were a bit worried about the ground, but she obviously handled it. Being by Lawman, we thought that gave her a chance.

“We felt that she’d definitely get closer to Donnacha’s filly after her run in Leopardstown, because we thought the Curragh would be more suitable for us.

“We were looking for an easy spot for her debut first time at Bellewstown, and she qualified for that race – but as it turned out, it actually was quite a good race.”

Looking to future plans, O’Brien added: “The Moyglare looks the logical next step. She has proven she’s versatile ground-wise.

“I thought Shane gave her a lovely, cool ride today – it was a lovely, confident ride.

“She’s a big, strong lady. She cost a good few quid as a yearling, but she was an outstanding physical specimen at the sales.

“The sky is the limit for her.”

Definition in Derby picture

In other two-year-old action to note, High Definition led home a promising one-two for O’Brien in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden.

Wordsworth – a full-brother to the stable’s top-class stayer Kew Gardens – was sent off the 5-2 favourite for the mile contest and looked like obliging after getting a gap to overhaul Mcpherson.

But High Definition (7-1) stayed on relentlessly from the rear under Wayne Lordan to prevail by three-quarters of a length.

The winner earned an introductory quote of 33-1 from Betfair for the Derby, and Lordan said: “He won quite well and is a lovely big horse.

“He was a little raw early. Through the middle of the race they didn’t quicken away from me and I was getting into a nice rhythm. He finished out comfortably.

“He’s a lovely colt and he’s going to be a lovely horse next year going a trip.”

Fifth last time out in the Phoenix Stakes, the O’Brien-trained St Mark’s Basilica got off the mark at the third time of asking as he justified odds of 4-7 in the six-furlong Irish Stallion Farms Maiden, denying Loch Lein by a length and a quarter.

Winning rider Seamie Heffernan said: “He had a very good run in a Group One and was basically a steering job.

“I’d say there is a high chance that he’s going to get further than six furlongs. I liked him.”


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