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Aidan O'Brien

Aidan O'Brien

Aidan O'Brien

Indian Chief added another potential string to Aidan O'Brien's Epsom Derby squad when demonstrating an impressive turn of foot to go from last to first in the opening maiden at Leopardstown.

The Montjeu colt finished second to Jim Bolger's subsequent Group One scorer Loch Garman on his only start in 2012 and was sent off the 4/7 favourite under Joseph O'Brien.

O'Brien Jnr had Indian Chief anchored at the back of the field and was still last turning into the straight in the 10-furlong contest.

But Indian Chief moved up a gear and swept by his rivals to easily account for Dubai Deer, putting himself in line for the Dante Stakes at York on May 16.

"I was afraid as last year he ran into Jim's horse (Loch Garman) and he emptied out," O'Brien said of the colt which earned a 25/1 quote for Epsom.

"For a Montjeu colt he has plenty of speed. They went a steady gallop and he quickened up well. Being dropped in last in a slowly run race you might think it's not the right place to be, but he picked up easily.

"He might be a Dante horse and the fella who won here yesterday (Battle Of Marengo) might come back here (Derrinstown)."

The O'Briens were denied a double in the following fillies' maiden in which their well-backed Say lost out narrowly in a photo-finish to Kerisa.

The winner, providing John Oxx with his first success of the season, edged past long-time leader Etesian around a furlong out and just managed to hold off Say's strong challenge.

Declan McDonogh completed a double of his own when swooping late on the Bill Farrell-trained Stronger Than Me to beat Smoke Charger a length and three-quarters in the one-mile handicap.

Whether it's on the level or over hurdles, Leah Claire is one of the most consistent mares in training and she picked off Tantalising late on in the 12-furlong conditions race under an astute ride from Shane Kelly. Winning trainer Willie McCreery indicated that there won't be of a rest for the daughter of Tomba as the plan is for her to run next over flights at Punchestown next week.

SPARKLE

Another long-standing campaigner, Head Waiter, showed plenty of sparkle to capture the the Leopardstown Intervarsity Colours Challenge Cup Handicap under Conor King.

Formerly trained by Eugene O'Sullivan and now in the care of Claire Simpson, the 10-year-old stayed on strongly to catch Rawnaq, which had attempted to make all the running.

Dermot Weld's Stuccodor (7/2) completed a four-timer when landing the 10-furlong handicap in convincing fashion under Pat Smullen, while another recent Gowran Park winner, Morning With Ivan, made every yard of the running to take the finale for the in-form team of Bolger and Kevin Manning.

Irish Independent