Go For Goal lands 2000 Guineas trial for Weld at Leopardstown
Published 30/03/2014 | 15:40
The formidable Weld-Smullen combination completed a double as 7-1 shot Go For Goal made his race fitness count to spring a minor upset in the Leopardstown 2,000 Guineas Trial.
While each of his rivals were making their first appearance of the season, Go For Goal was turning out just a week after filling the runner-up spot in the Madrid Handicap on the opening day of the season at the Curragh.
Smullen was happy to let Go For Goal race at the head of affairs from the outset, with Racing Post Trophy fifth Buonarroti and dual winner Shining Emerald his closest pursuers at the top of the straight.
The latter emerged as the only serious threat as they raced inside the final furlong, but Go For Goal was always doing enough and passed the post three-quarters of a length to the good.
Ebanoran ran with plenty of promise in third, but the previously unbeaten 11-8 favourite Indian Maharaja was bitterly disappointing.
Weld said: "He ran a good race at the Curragh last week, he handles the ground and is a very fit horse.
"It was a very enterprising ride from the jockey, as was the plan.
"We'll see how he comes out of it, give him a bit of time and see where we go with him.
"Today was the ideal race for him on the score of fitness.
"He's effective on that ground, but he's a light bodied horse and has a good action, so I wouldn't be surprised if he handled better ground as well.
"He's game, he battles and he tries hard."
Weld and Smullen suffered an odds-on reverse in the Leopardstown 1,000 Guineas Trial as Balansiya had to make do with the runner-up spot behind Bracelet.
Balansiya was a 9-10 market-leader following a spectacular winning debut over the course and distance in early November and all appeared to be going according to plan as she moved sweetly to the lead early in the straight.
However, Aidan O'Brien's Bracelet, ridden by the trainer's son Joseph, came out of the pack to challenge from a furlong out and wore down Balansiya to take the Group Three prize by a length.
Avenue Gabriel and Harry's Princess finished third and fourth respectively.
O'Brien snr said: "She did it nicely and she's a filly we think will stay well in time.
"We're delighted with her and all things being well, she might go to the Guineas (at Newmarket). I'll speak to the boys (owners)."
Asked whether he thought Bracelet would stay a mile a and half, the trainer said: "We always thought she would, but Joseph said he wasn't sure there, as she showed a lot of speed.
"That's why we're thinking about the Guineas."
Bracelet was cut to 16-1 from 25s for the Guineas at Newmarket by Betfred and made 8-1 favourite for the Oaks.