So You Think leaves O'Brien awestruck
Those who witnessed Frankel gallop to glory in the 2,000 Guineas believe they've seen a wonder horse; on the other side of the world they know they have one - except that So You Think is now trained by Aidan O'Brien, who was lavish in his praise after yesterday's impressive Curragh victory.
So You Think has a cult following back in Australia and took his first European steps towards explaining his hero status with an effortless win in the race named after his sire, the High Chaparral Mooresbridge Stakes.
Last year So You Think -- under the preparation of Bart Cummings -- was five for five, including a second successive Cox Plate, the local equivalent of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, before a tremendous display to take third under a huge weight in the Melbourne Cup. He is now based at Ballydoyle, with the real Arc in his sights.
The five-year-old, a notably imposing individual, turned yesterday's outing into little more than an exercise gallop. Starting at 2/13 against five inferior rivals in a 10-furlong Group Three contest, he quickened away through the final quarter-mile, leaving Bob Le Beau 10 lengths adrift. "He took me where I wanted to go, and when, very easily," said rider Seamie Heffernan. "He has some amazing speed."
So You Think will revert to top company for his next appearance, the Tattersalls Gold Cup back at the track in 19 days' time, a race also tantalisingly nominated as the seasonal debut for last year's Arc and Derby winner Workforce. Frankel, Saturday's freakishly impressive Newmarket winner, may yet have competition as a public icon.
O'Brien -- who has already enjoyed success with former Aussie recruits Starspangledbanner and Haradasun -- is already as committed a fan, along with those who set their alarms for 1.20 in the antipodean small hours to watch a live broadcast of yesterday's race.
"We'd heard how special he was," he said, "but you don't really know, it can be mystery and fantasy until you see it close up yourself. Now we've taken the lid off -- even ever so slightly, because all he's been doing at home has been half-speeds and was just about ready to start today -- we can see and feel and believe that aura.
"He's a total professional, he settled in the race, quickened when he was asked and went to the winning line as relaxed as if he was going to the start and you couldn't have asked for more. He's an incredible specimen."
With nothing home-grown coming through for this season's elite middle-distance programme, John Magnier and his Coolmore partners shrewdly bought a controlling share in So You Think after his Flemington effort.
O'Brien also won the opening Alfred Nobel EBF Maiden with impressive newcomer Power. Backed from 13/2 into 3/1, he had clearly been working nicely at Ballydoyle and came home two lengths clear of Remember Alexander, which was slow from the stalls.
"Power is a sharp, mature type and is a lovely, big, honest horse," said O'Brien. "He may be an Ascot horse."
John Oxx has made a fine start to the season and in Emiyna he has a filly with Classic pretensions. The 5/2 favourite just held off Lolly For Dolly in the Starspangledbanner EBF Athasi Stakes, denying Tommy Stack's filly back-to-back wins in the Group Three.
The pair had a ding-dong battle with Johnny Murtagh -- who went on to complete a treble -- just coming out on top by a short head. "I'm delighted with that as she is a good filly and will run next in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, all going well," said Oxx.
Oxx and Murtagh also teamed up with 6/4 favourite Dance Secretary in the PG Duffy & Sons Mazda Maiden while Murtagh won the Newbridge Credit Union Handicap on the Ger Lyons-trained Casbah Rock (11/4 favourite).
Oxx was denied in the Dylan Thomas EBF Tetrach Stakes when his Zabarajad was edged out by David Wachman's 6/4 favourite Imperial Rome, which will be aimed at the French Guineas next.
At Limerick, the Paul Flynn-trained Moon Dice rewarded sustained support when capturing the GAA Supporters Day May 22 Handicap Hurdle under the in-form Tom Doyle.
Doyle had his mount up front throughout before kicking clear turning for home, scoring by seven lengths from Worldly Wise. The Co Kilkenny-owned gelding was as big as 10/1 in the morning but that price didn't last long and he went off 9/2 second favourite.
Doyle went on to complete a 175/1 treble as he had earlier ridden the Patrick Neville-trained Rockshandy to victory in the opening maiden hurdle, and took the handicap chase aboard Noble Commander for trainer James Halpin.
The other maiden hurdle on the card went to Friendly Society for the combination of Ruby Walsh and Michael Hourigan, which struck with Lend A Hand Son at Sligo on Sunday. (© Independent News Service)