Casamento repays Halford's faith with Beresford success
Local trainer Michael Halford produced the supplemented Casamento in excellent shape to land the odds with plenty to spare under Pat Smullen in yesterday's Juddmonte Beresford Stakes at The Curragh for the most significant victory of his career to date.
Sporting the maroon and white colours of Sheikh Mohammed, the Shamardal colt, which had run unbeaten Pathfork to a head in the National Stakes there earlier in the month, was cut to 16/1 by Ladbrokes for the English 2,000 Guineas.
Whatever his fate next year, either under Halford's guidance or if the Sheikh opts to transfer him to Godolphin, this is a horse with a future and it is possible he could be seen out again this year following this Group Two triumph.
Despite being a little uneasy in the market, Casamento gave his connections few worries as Smullen allowed Robin Hood coast along in front before taking closer order in the straight and forging clear from Mawaakef..
Halford acknowledged freely that he was under pressure beforehand to deliver on his enterprising policy to fork out €10,000 and supplement his charge after Casamento's narrow Group One defeat by Pathfork over a furlong shorter trip.
"Once he really pleased us when we worked him here last Tuesday morning, I was quite happy that we had done the right thing," said Halford.
The omens for Halford's yard were encouraging beforehand as the much-improved Hujaylea and Mayo teenager Conor Hoban extended their winning sequence in the Whitney Moore Trophy by outstaying joint favourite Luisant.
David Wachman shared the training honours with Halford as Chrysanthemum followed up her shock debut course success by landing the C L Weld Park Stakes in a tight finish from the favourite Wild Wind and Bible Belt.
Patiently ridden by Wayne Lordan, also successful in the finale aboard Eddie Lynam's Ezalli, the daughter of Danehill Dancer showed a nice blend of pace and courage to come between Bible Belt and Wild Wind inside the final furlong of this Group Three contest.
The stable had started the fixture on a winning note as well after Colm O'Donoghue, later to double up on Bright Horizon in the Hacketts Irish Cesarewitch, kept 16/1 chance Stage Master at full stretch to hold the late challenge of debutant Rose Bonheur.
Still considering saddling both Fame And Glory and Cape Blanco in next Sunday's 'Arc', champion trainer Aidan O'Brien was landing the Cesarewitch for the first time when O'Donoghue brought Bright Horizon (14/1) the shortest way home to go clear of What A Charm. It was a much tighter call, however, in the day's other Premier Handicap as Niall McCullagh aboard Liam McAteer's 20/1 chance Thats A Fret managed to foil the best efforts of Zaralanta.
At Clonmel, meanwhile, Wise Old Owl preserved John Kiely's red-hot run of form in the feature race of the day. The Co Waterford handler has enjoyed a vintage September and, after a treble at Navan on Saturday, posted another winner when the six-year-old claimed the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Captain Christy Novice Chase.
Ruby Walsh enjoyed a double at the Munster track as Prosperity Square ran out a five-and-a-half-length winner of the Style Clonmel Festival Handicap Hurdle. Walsh scored earlier on Adrian Murray's Cass Bligh, which ran out a comfortable winner of the novice hurdle.
There was controversy in the maiden hurdle when Big Game Hunter justified his position as favourite for the Laganore Maiden Hurdle, only to lose the race in the stewards' room. The son of Sadler's Wells took over before the straight but the mount of Niall 'Slippers' Madden drifted into High Magic before the last. The interference was minimal and on the run-in the Mouse Morris-trained gelding got the verdict by a head, but the result was amended after a stewards' enquiry.