A DECENT crowd assembled at Leopardstown yesterday in anticipation of one of the more informative two-year-old races in Ireland this season as Born To Sea took on the well-backed Nephrite.
Much hype surrounded the odds-on favourite Born To Sea, who had made a winning debut in listed company and, of course, is a three-parts brother to the legendary Sea The Stars.
The Aidan O'Brien duo of Vault and Ishvana set a very strong gallop but, turning in, it was Nephrite who travelled that bit better than Born To Sea and, once quickening, went on under Joseph O'Brien to win by a length and a half.
Although both horses have finished for the winter, there is no doubt that the pair will be prominent among next season's headlines.
After the race, however, Born To Sea was found to be lame, which may be why he didn't quicken as was expected.
The winning trainer said: "He has progressed nicely from his maiden and Joseph gave him a very confident ride.
"He travelled well and looked to get the seven furlongs very well today. He quickened up nicely."
John Oxx, Born to Sea's trainer, said afterwards: "He ran well and I'm happy.
"He just didn't have his usual turn of foot today. We're not too disappointed and the winner looks a good horse.
"Johnny (Murtagh) said the ground didn't play to his strengths and the 2,000 Guineas is still the plan."
It wasn't the best of days for Murtagh, who failed to get a winner on the board at what was the third last meeting of the Irish flat season. A treble on the day saw Pat Smullen reduce his title lead to two winners.
Smullen's mount in the opening two-year-old fillies' maiden was backed from 5/1 into 5/2 joint favourite but failed to land a blow, yet despite that, he went on to complete the hat-trick.
That was instigated in the nursery on Coolnagree for trainer Willie McCreery, and he followed that up quickly in the next in the Trigo Stakes as he steered Zaminast to win by an impressive two and three parts of a length, after his intended mount Famous Name was a non-runner.
The three-timer was completed in the last race as Midnight Music gave Dermot Weld a double.