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‘Coco’ has Paddy Twomey dreaming after Pretty Polly triumph

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La Petite Coco (2), with Billy Lee up, races down the final straight alongside My Astra on her way to victory in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh. Photo: Sportsfile .

La Petite Coco (2), with Billy Lee up, races down the final straight alongside My Astra on her way to victory in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh. Photo: Sportsfile .

La Petite Coco (2), with Billy Lee up, races down the final straight alongside My Astra on her way to victory in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh. Photo: Sportsfile .

The market didn’t speak in her favour but La Petite Coco (9/1) paid little heed to it to hand Paddy Twomey his first Group One success in the Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes. The racing world is now her oyster after a gutsy success at the Curragh.

It looked like a lack of race fitness may catch the Ruler Of The World filly out in the final furlong on her seasonal debut when stablemate Rosscarbery (20/1) and the William Haggas-trained My Astra (11/4 favourite) threw down the gauntlet, but Billy Lee’s mount kept finding more.

She had a half-length to spare at the finish to make it five from six since joining Twomey, and the Tipperary-based trainer was bullish about the four-year-old’s chances with some lofty targets now in the pipeline.

“To be honest, I couldn’t see her being beaten coming here,” Twomey said nonchalantly. “I didn’t enter her in the Arc for fun. I think she’s top class and we decided to start her campaign in the middle of the year with a view to the second half of the year.

“We’ll consider the Yorkshire Oaks, the (British Champions) Fillies and Mares at Ascot, the Arc, the Breeders’ Cup maybe, Hong Kong, that sort of a line-up but we didn’t want to travel for her first run.”

Twomey was left feeling somewhat bittersweet after his red-letter day, though, as third-placed Rosscarbery was disqualified after jockey Wayne Lordan weighed in almost 5lbs light.

Serious question marks were raised around the weighing-out procedure afterwards with Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board communications manager Niall Cronin explaining the reasons behind the disqualification, although this will not be the last of the controversy with an investigation on the way.

“Basically Wayne Lordan weighed out at 138.1 and weighed back in at 133.5. As a result there was an enquiry into the weighing-in procedures of the third placed horse. As per Rule 231, section 1, the horse had to be disqualified,” Cronin said.

Barry Irwin, of La Petite Coco’s winning connections Team Valor, also had an interesting take on why he now prefers to invest in Irish racing rather than his native United States.

“I’ve backed off of racing in the United States, I’m not happy with it there.

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“I think it will get better but we’ve had some issues with guys taking an edge. I have a lot more faith in what’s going on here and it’s much more fun,” Irwin said.

Aidan O’Brien mopped up the other Pattern prize available with Statuette (4/6 favourite) shooting to the head of the 2023 English 1,000 Guineas market after getting on top late on to take the Group Two Airlie Stud Stakes.

“She’s a very big filly and we were only training her three-quarters ready because we had our eye on the last part of the season,” O’Brien said of her cosy win by three-quarters-of-a-length under Ryan Moore.

“She travelled lovely and Ryan nursed her. She won lovely and we were very happy. She has a beautiful mind, great stride and an unbelievable physique. We think the Justifys are something to look forward to.”

Moore doubled up in the closing maiden with Cougar (10/11 favourite) streaking clear by seven lengths, while Lee also completed a brace and maintained his red-hot streak guiding Self Belief (12/1) to auction maiden success for Willie McCreery.

There was also a first double for emerging apprentice Jamie Powell, the Kildare rider taking the €100,000 Rockingham aboard John Feane’s Ano Syra (9/2) having also scored on the Kevin Coleman-trained Coumshingaun (10/1).

There was a rare Curragh success for jumps handler Paul Nolan, the former Ballydoyle inmate HMS Seahorse (13/2) now bound for the Galway Hurdle after hosing up under Chris Hayes in the Ragusa Handicap.

 * independent.ie punters following Michael Verney’s advice had a profitable day with his three tips – La Petite Coco (9/1), HMS Seahorse (13/2) and Statuette (4/6) – prevailing


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