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Aidan O’Brien expecting further improvement as Luxembourg prevails on comeback bow

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Luxembourg, left, ridden by Ryan Moore on the way to winning from Insinuendo ridden by Billy Lee in The Fitzdares Royal Whip Stakes of €55,000 at the Curragh. Photo: Donall Farmer/PA

Luxembourg, left, ridden by Ryan Moore on the way to winning from Insinuendo ridden by Billy Lee in The Fitzdares Royal Whip Stakes of €55,000 at the Curragh. Photo: Donall Farmer/PA

Luxembourg, left, ridden by Ryan Moore on the way to winning from Insinuendo ridden by Billy Lee in The Fitzdares Royal Whip Stakes of €55,000 at the Curragh. Photo: Donall Farmer/PA

Aidan O’Brien couldn’t hide his satisfaction after Luxembourg (2/9 favourite) made a winning return from injury with the Ballydoyle maestro expecting the Camelot colt to improve by “20 to 30 per cent” when tackling the Irish Champion Stakes.

Ryan Moore was forced to dig deep in the final furlong on the one-time Epsom Derby favourite to fend off the Willie McCreery-trained Insinuendo (15/2) by a neck with the pair pulling clear in Saturday’s Group Three Royal Whip Stakes at the Curragh.

It might have seemed like Luxembourg hadn’t pulled up too many trees, but O’Brien was left beaming after revealing that he had suffered a fresh setback three weeks ago with all roads now leading to the Irish Champion Stakes on September 10.

“I can’t tell you how delighted we are, we’re over the moon. He had to sprint the last two furlongs and I couldn’t be happier.” O’Brien said.

“We’re very relieved as we didn’t think he’d ever get here – we thought that he had no chance of running (this year) after what happened to him. Everyone did a great job to get him over his first mishap, he was off for a long time. Then he came back and it wasn’t smooth with him.

“Our eye was on the Irish Champion Stakes and obviously we knew you couldn’t go there without a run, and this was the only place we could run.

“First time back we didn’t want a grueller because he was only ready to start. We came here with High Chaparral before (winning) the Irish Champion (in 2003), and he came on lovely from it. This horse had a lot more to come on because he had a big setback. I thought he would improve 20 to 30 per cent from today.”

A memorable day for Colin Keane kicked off in great style at the Kildare track when Mauiewowie (7/4 favourite) got the better of a head-bobber with Treasure Trove (9/2) to take the Listed Curragh Stakes.

In doing so, Ger Lyons landed the five-furlong sprint for the sixth time in the past nine years and the Meath trainer may put the exciting Night Of Thunder filly away until next season.

“She’s a lovely filly and a filly we always liked. We have a load of backward two-year-olds at home and she’s the one that has always been precocious,” Lyons said.

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“We’ll see how she comes out of it but I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t see her again this year and we look after her until next year. We won’t rush her and we’ll let her come along. She’ll come into her own over six furlongs with a little bit of juice.”

Keane then quickly made tracks for Tramore’s evening meeting in his quest to retain his champion jockey’s crown and it paid off as he landed a handicap double via Denis Hogan’s Wojood (9/2) and the Joe Murphy-trained Barometer (7/2).

Ben Coen was another to score across two cards when taking the opening Curragh maiden aboard Johnny Murtagh’s Daamberdiplomat (10/1) before steering the Willie Mullins-trained Gibraltar (85/40 favourite) to a commanding success at the Waterford track.

The other major Curragh prize went the way of Joseph O’Brien when Raise You (5/4 favourite) fended off Search For A Song by two lengths to take the Group Three Irish St Leger Trial Stakes under Shane Crosse.


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