Hit It A Bomb third as Tribal Beat claims gold in Desmond at Leopardstown
Breeders' Cup hero Hit It A Bomb had to make do with minor honours as Tribal Beat claimed victory in the Invesco Pension Consultants Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained Hit It A Bomb was protecting an unbeaten record in the Group Three feature, but had not been seen in competitive action since completing a hat-trick in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland last October.
Despite his lengthy absence, the son of War Front was a 13-8 market-leader for his belated return and everything appeared to be going according to plan for favourite backers as Seamie Heffernan's mount cruised towards the front entering the final furlong.
However, with the lack of a recent outing perhaps telling, Hit It A Bomb did not find as much for pressure as had seemed likely and he passed the post in third place, just ahead of the sole British challenger in the field, Custom Cut.
Jim Bolger's Tribal Beat had actually been off the track for six days longer than the Ballydoyle runner, with his last outing coming when second in the Killavullan Stakes at this venue.
The 9-1 shot was nearer last than first turning for home, but picked up well in the straight in the hands of Kevin Manning to score by a length and three-quarters from last year's winner Cougar Mountain, also trained by O'Brien.
Bolger said: "He's a good horse and a mile or maybe nine furlongs is as far as he wants to go. He has to have good ground or better.
"He was just held up by small little things - one little thing after another. We have had a good run with him for the last six weeks."
O'Brien was pleased with the performances of both Hit It A Bomb and Cougar Mountain, with the Boomerang Stakes on September 10 nominated as a potential next port of call for the former.
"Hit It A Bomb came there to win but he just got a little bit tired. He will improve plenty for the run," said O'Brien.
"He may come back here on Champions Weekend for the Boomerang Stakes over a mile. He will need a run or two to get him right.
"Cougar Mountain is a solid horse and ran a solid race."
That completed a double for Bolger and Manning after Mcguigan (5-1co-fav) had earlier denied Victorious Secret by a short head to land the Bulmers Live At Leopardstown Handicap.