Breeders hero 'bombs' on comeback
Breeders Cup hero Hit It A Bomb failed to fire on his seasonal comeback, having 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 colt was protecting an unbeaten record in the Group Three feature, but hadn't 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 the 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 to the front entering the final furlong.
However, with the lack of a recent outing perhaps telling, Hit It A Bomb didn't find much for pressure and he passed the post in third, just ahead of the sole British raider Custom Cut.
Jim Bolger's Tribal Beat had 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 under Kevin Manning to win by a length and three-quarters from last year's winner Cougar Mountain, also trained by O'Brien.
"He's a good horse and a mile or maybe nine furlongs is as far as he wants to go," said Bolger. "He was just held up by small little things - one little thing after another. We've 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 target 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.
Victory in the showpiece completed a 59/1 double for the Bolger-Manning axis as they had earlier combined to land the six-furlong handicap with McGuigan, which lived up to its name by showing admirable fighting qualities to edge out fellow 5/1 co-favourite Victorious Secret by a short head.
O'Brien drew a blank but son Joseph sent out Udogo (8/1) to claim the ten-furlong apprentice handicap in the hands of his sister Ana.