Wednesday 18 September 2019

Armory's firepower blows away rivals in Curragh showpiece

Jim Crowley rides Battaash to victory in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York yesterday. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Jim Crowley rides Battaash to victory in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York yesterday. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Thomas Kelly

Promising juvenile Armory cemented his position as a leading contender for Classic honours next season with victory in last night's Galileo Futurity Stakes at the Curragh.

The Aidan O'Brien-trained colt was sent off 4/6 favourite for the seven-furlong Group Two, which has been dominated by Ballydoyle in recent seasons and won last year by this year's Epsom Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck.

Winner of the Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown last month, Ryan Moore's mount raced in behind the pace set by stablemates Toronto and Iberia.

Bursting between that pair two furlongs out, the son of Galileo quickly went a length clear at the furlong pole, and while Rebel Tale closed to within three-parts of a length at the line, the manner of victory was impressive.

"The plan was to come here and come back for the National Stakes. I couldn't be happier," said O'Brien.

On a quality card, the Jessica Harrington-trained Alpine Star just prevailed from Petite Mustique in a pulsating renewal of the Debutante Stakes.

The winner's stablemate Windracer made the early running in this Group Two, closely attended by O'Brien-trained favourite Love, which edged into a narrow lead over two furlongs out.

Plenty had chances with a furlong to travel, however, with Love's stablemate Petite Mustique charging into it and Alpine Star (2/1) also well involved.

Continuing Harrington's tremendous run with her two-year-olds, Shane Foley's mount stuck doggedly to her guns to get verdict by a short head.

At York, Battaash took the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes in devastating style and lowered 29-year-old course record set by Dayjur to below 56 seconds.

Soldier's Call finished second but it was, essentially, Battaash first, the rest nowhere. From stall one the five-year-old got a good tow in before Jim Crowley engaged the boosters two furlongs out. In a few strides the race was over and the horse's York 'hoodoo' a distant memory.

"He won that with a bit of style," said trainer Charlie Hills by way of understatement about a time of just 55.91 seconds. "To lower Dayjur's record - I never thought I'd see a faster horse although, to be fair, Willie Carson once said Battaash could be the next Dayjur.

Ability

"He's a superstar. He has always had the ability but now he is putting it together."

York racegoers were not only treated to a brilliant demonstration of sprinting - at the other end of the stamina-speed equation Stradivarius collected a second Weatherbys-Hamilton £1 m stayers bonus and racked up his ninth win in a row when he beat old foe Dee Ex Bee into second for the third race in succession in the Lonsdale Cup.

John Gosden's chestnut won by just over a length but it is a job to tell just how much better than the rest he is because he only ever does enough.

- Gavin Cromwell suffered a big setback yesterday when his Champion Hurdle hero Espoir D'Allen died at the age of five, just months since his scintillating display to land the two-mile hurdling showpiece at the Cheltenham Festival by a record 15 lengths.

Irish Independent

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