Cormorant lowered the colours of stablemate Russian Emperor when landing the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial on a remarkable afternoon at Leopardstown for trainer Aidan O'Brien.
Cormorant (12/1) just lasted home when holding off hot-favourite Russian Emperor to win the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial as Aidan O'Brien saddled the first three home.
The market spoke strongly in favour of Russian Emperor beforehand on the back of his victory at Naas on the opening day of the season but he had to settle for second best as Cormorant ran out a game winner under a fine tactical ride from Padraig Beggy.
Cormorant was quickly sent into the lead by Beggy, who was keen to dictate terms on the grey son of Kingman, and he still had his four rivals stacked up in behind when turning for home.
Iberia and Sunchart were first to make their bids but after Cormorant had kicked again with two furlongs still to run, it was Russian Emperor who would mount the final challenge, eventually picking up strongly inside the final hundred yards but still half a length adrift of his stablemate as they hit the line.
Iberia eventually finished back in third.
Beggy said: "He's a colt that had plenty of racing last year and I think that stood to him.
"He jumped out, knew his job, went a good gallop and from halfway he kept galloping like Aidan said he would and kept going well.
"He's a honest horse, it was first-time blinkers and they seemed to work. He kept finding plenty. I was good and aggressive with him and from halfway got him going.
"The last furlong I was letting him just do enough to win."
He added: "He's a horse that can hopefully keep on improving. I'd say as the year goes on he might even handle a little bit of cut in the ground."
It was more of the same for O'Brien in the previous race, the Irish Stallion Farms EBF (C & G) Maiden, as Tiger Moth (16/5) proved too strong for stablemates Dawn Patrol, Order Of Australia, Amhran Na Bhfiann.
It was Order Of Australia and Amhran Na Bhfiann who set sail for home first but Tiger Moth was always travelling sweetly in the hands of Wayne Lordan and the Galileo colt quickened up nicely when squeezing between runners at the furlong pole.
Dawn Patrol finished well on the outside to ensure it wasn't all one-way traffic but Tiger Moth had matters in hand and was good value for his half-length victory.
Lordan said: "He's a nice colt. He had a good run as a two-year-old and he's been working nicely.
"He stays well. It rode like a nice race and he'll improve a bit when he steps up in trip as well.
"It was a nice performance."
The opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden might be a race to follow going forward and Ennistymon displayed a really good attitude when battling back to deny Shamiyna who ran a race full of promise on debut.
Following one encouraging run last summer, Ennistymon was all the rage in the morning and eventually justified 11/8 favouritism after travelling powerfully for much of the 1m2f contest before hitting the front inside the final furlong.
However, Shamiyna really picked well up once the penny had dropped and with the rail for help, appeared to have done enough to make a winning start when edging into the lead close home, only for Ennistymon to put her previous experience to good use and get back up with a late rally in the final stride.
Winning jockey Seamie Heffernan said: "She had a lovely run last year at the Curragh when I got no run on her.
"Ideally I would have liked a bit of cover, but I won well at the line. She idled a little bit in front.
"She could make up into a smart filly."
Not to be outdone, Love Locket 6/1 produced a polish display when coming home first in the Leopardstown Fillies Trial Stakes for Heffernan, who was bringing up a double of his own.
Always well positioned, Love Locket was given the office turning in and put the race to bed with a decisive turn of foot that left many of her rivals toiling in behind.
To her credit, Know It All finished strongly once finally able to navigate a path through weakening horses but the bird had flown for the eventual runner-up as Lock Locket had a length and a half in hand at the finish.
Precious Moments, another trained by O'Brien, was back in third.
Heffernan said: "She's big and she's done well from two to three.
"I would have won at any trip today, five, six or seven. I've had four rides and I've given two of them good rides!
"There is a big bias being in front here today. It's as big a bias as I've seen being in front.
"I don't see why she wouldn't get a mile, but she might not have to go a mile.
"Usually if they are comfortable going six we keep them at six. They usually just go up in trip if they are not comfortable. She's comfortable at six/seven."
Jim Bolger can start making some big plans for Ten Year Ticket (8/1) after the three-year-old maintained his unbeaten record with victory in the Holden Plant Rental (C & G) Trial Stakes.
The gelded son of Rock Of Gibraltar looked a horse with a bright future when making a winning debut at the Curragh in October and he took another big step forward here, producing a striking late turn of foot to run down King Of Athens close home.
King Of Athens looked sure to collect when wearing down Dark Vader deep inside the final furlong but just as he had put daylight between himself and his rivals, Kevin Manning got an impressive response from Ten Year Ticket who ate up in the ground in the last hundred yards to win going away by a neck.
Ten Year Ticket was landing a sizeable gamble in the process, having been backed down to 8/1 from an opening show of 18/1.
Manning said: "He's done it well. He won well at the Curragh last year on heavy ground and we weren't so sure going there whether he would handle it or not. He's after handling heavy and now fast ground. That maiden in the Curragh turned out well.
"He's a horse going in the right direction. He got the seven well and there is no reason why he shouldn't get further.
"He'll improve plenty as it's only his second start. Coming back from heavy ground to quick ground he was still quite green, but he'll improve plenty."
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