Lope Y Fernandez comfortably produced a long-awaited victory when taking the one-mile Listed Heritage Stakes at Leopardstown.
The four-year-old was twice a winner in his juvenile season, claiming the Group Three Round Tower Stakes at the Curragh and placing twice behind Godolphin’s champion two-year-old Pinatubo.
Success as a three-year-old was elusive, however, as the bay gamely plied his trade in Ireland, England, France and America and was unable to bring home a triumph.
A move to slightly less exalted company left him the 4-6 favourite at Leopardstown, an estimation he readily justified when cruising to a five-and-a-half-length win under Seamie Heffernan.
“Last year we messed around with his trip a good bit,” trainer Aidan O’Brien explained. “We didn’t learn what it was until the end at the Breeders Cup.
“He’s a miler and you take your time with him. He’s at his best when he’s able to quicken and likes nice ground. We’re thinking about going to the Lockinge with him, then possibly the Queen Anne Stakes.”
Running gallantly in second was Ado McGuinness’ consistent Saltonstall, with 50-1 chance Koolasice coming home in third place for Leigh Roche and Ross O’Sullivan.
Acanella looked a smart performer in the making with her victory in the Leopardstown Racecourse Fillies Maiden.
Having her first start, the Ger Lyons-trained three-year-old was the 2-1 favourite in the Juddmonte silks and stayed on strongly through the final furlong to beat Climate by two lengths.
Lyons was represented by his brother, Shane, who said: “She did today what we have seen at home. We’ve always liked her, she’s very professional and has a marvellous pedigree.
“We didn’t think she would be ready to run until the middle of May, but being by Dansili we took advantage of the little bit of juice in the ground. It’s beautiful ground here.
“We’ll look forward to her. What they have in mind for her I’m not sure, but it’s going to be exciting because that’s what she has been showing us at home.”
Acanella was the second leg of a double for Colin Keane, who won with another promising filly in the shape of Alazenya in the opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden – a race trainer Dermot Weld won with subsequent Breeders’ Cup heroine Tarnawa in 2019.
Sent off at 100-30, the daughter of Siyouni hit the front with a furlong to run and had half a length in hand of La Joconde at the line.
Weld said: “She’s a nice filly and has been working nicely at home. Colin liked her the other morning when she worked. Obviously first time out there is a little bit of inexperience and greenness, but she’s a very nice filly.
“We’ll see how she progresses before we decide where to go, but obviously we will be looking for a bit of black type with her.
“That trip (10 furlongs) is good for the moment. She has plenty of pace and the dam stayed well. Later in the year this filly might go a mile and a half.”