Roses bears fruit for Berry and Oxx
Last summer's Irish Oaks runner-up Roses For The Lady resumed in style at Navan yesterday to emulate former stable companion Alandi's victory of 12 months ago in the Vintage Crop Stakes.
Despite pre-race reservations of trainer John Oxx about the fast going, the season's leading rider Fran Berry took the favourite to the front from the outset with English raider Merchant Of Dubai in pursuit. This pair dominated ahead of top weight Grace O'Malley, which closed in the straight but couldn't get in a blow as Berry kept the Oxx filly at full stretch and Robert Winston galvanised Merchant Of Dubai.
Their duel was only resolved in favour of Berry's mount inside the final furlong of this listed race, captured in the recent past by subsequent Group 1 winners Yeats (twice) and Kastoria. The latter pair each starred for the Oxx yard and Roses For The Lady could be stepping up to Group Two company next month in the Yorkshire Cup.
"It's a relief -- I was terrified about the ground but she got away with it. She needs it soft to be at her best and if it was a wet week she may go to York," said Oxx of the Sadler's Wells filly.
The featured Salsabil Stakes also went to a trail-blazer, this time the Jim Bolger-trained Akdarena, which was also home-bred by Miss Kirsten Rausing and given a well-judged ride by Davy Moran. This 7/1 daughter of Hernando showed the benefit fitness-wise of a Curragh outing last month behind Pollen when grittily maintaining her advantage from a closing pack even if she swished her tail.
"She's done that all her life but is a good filly and won with her ears pricked," explained Moran, who doubled up in the concluding Family Day Handicap aboard the Ger Lyons outsider Ghetto Gospel.
These were the first winners of the season for Moran, who heads off to Canada later this week to renew his association with the ex-Bolger filly Roan Inish on Saturday at Woodbine.
Cork's listed sprint on Friday evening could feature a quick reappearance by Joanna Morgan's speedy mare Miss Gorica, which defied a wide draw and hefty 10-8 burden to take the Navan Handicap under Pat Smullen.
At Gowran Park, meanwhile, the Oxx string also showed they are on good terms with themselves as the Curragbeg maestro sent out a double. Ben Curtis recorded his first winner for Oxx by taking the opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Race aboard 4/1 shot Lingapour. Curtis made all aboard the Gulch gelding and despite being strongly pressed by the 4/9 favourite Baglioni from a furlong and a half out, he kept on well to score by a neck.
Oxx's double was completed when Aznavour took the Membership Open At Gowran Park Golf Club Maiden under Niall McCullagh, who sent his mount to the front early in the straight and the pair soon drew clear to score by an easy four and a half lengths.
Bolger, also on the mark at Navan, sent out Ceannline to land the one-mile maiden for four-year-olds. Kevin Manning had his mount in front from over one and a half furlongs out, and kept on well despite hanging left close to home to record a length-and-a-quarter win over Prayer Boat.
"Hopefully the handicapper won't be too hard on her and we'll get another opportunity," said Bolger. "She's a nice big filly and will probably go jumping in time."
The mile handicap saw a surprise as 25/1 shot Dilinata ran out a length-and-a-half winner under Padraig Beggy. Patrick Cody's charge was never too far off the leaders and was produced by Beggy to lead from over a furlong and a half out.
The pair kept on well close home to record a length-and-a-half victory over Northgate and Conor Hoban. Michael Hussey was okay after his mount Marias Dream slipped up and went through the rail early on.