Saturday 24 March 2018

Guineas joy for Prendergast

ockey Chris Hayes celebrates aboard Awtaad after winning the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh. Photo: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
ockey Chris Hayes celebrates aboard Awtaad after winning the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh. Photo: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile

Marcus Armytage

Awtaad, trained by the octogenarian Kevin Prendergast, ran out a popular and convincing winner of the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at The Curragh last night. The victory came 40 years after Prendergast's only other win in the race with Northern Treasure in 1976.

The colt, owned by Sheikh Hamdan and ridden by Chris Hayes, beat the Qipco Guineas winner and 5-4 favourite Galileo Gold by a comprehensive two and a half lengths. The runner-up and Frankie Dettori did not have the smoothest of passages on the inside where it got quite tight for him but, on the rain softened ground, Awtaad was always travelling better.

When Hayes sent him on two out the acceleration was instant and though Galileo Gold stayed on to reduce his lead towards the line, he was beaten fair and square. Blue de Vega was four and a quarter lengths back in third.

Awtaad, who still holds an Investec Derby entry, was sent off a well-backed 9-2.

Hayes said he had not slept for a week before the race. "He's been flying and we've always held him in such high regard," he said. "It showed how good he is. The only instructions the boss gave me were not to hit the front too soon - which I did but I saw Frankie in a bit of bother. He's the best I've ever rode at seven furlongs, a mile or a mile and a quarter. It means a lot to me, the boss has been so good to me."

Despite fielding half the field of eight Aidan O'Brien's best finisher was Bravery, the outsider of the lot, in fourth. Last year's outstanding two-year-old Air Force Blue was a bitter disappointment once again and even allowing for the ground never appeared to be going and beat only one home.

Prendergast was understandably delighted with the victory. "That was great," he said, "and I'd like to thank Sheikh Hamdan for having faith in me for a long time.

"He was very backward as a two-year-old, and I'd say he's as good a horse as I've had. We have a dry place at home and he worked well there, but he had won on soft so we accepted it.

"I think he's a very good horse, but how far he will go I don't know. He was forced to go a bit early today as Frankie was in a bit of bother on the inside, so he kicked and hoped for the best.

"I don't know where he will go next. The boss man (Sheikh Hamdan) makes the decision and we go along with it. The last one (Irish 2,000 Guineas) was 40 years ago, and a lot of lads weren't born then!"

"He's in the Derby and the Irish Derby, so we'll see what he wants to do. There is a good bit of stamina in the family, so who knows?"

Aidan O'Brien enjoyed better luck when Brave Anna came with a run on the outside to open her account the Lester Piggott FBD Hotels & Resorts EBF Fillies Maiden at the Curragh.

Seamie Heffernan was happy to sit behind the two leaders, How and Lady Beware, before switching the O'Brien-trained filly to the outside to make her bid. Brave Anna (9-2), showing the benefit of her debut run at Naas, asserted in the closing stages to win by a length from Lady Beware with her stablemate How a neck away in third under Ryan Moore.

The race was delayed by 10 minutes after Pepperminty got loose before the start and was eventually withdrawn. Magical Fire was also taken out.

Velveteen, who had been the likely favourite, had been declared a non-runner earlier. "She came home well," said O'Brien. "She is a sister to Hit It A Bomb who got a mile well. She can certainly step up to seven furlongs now. Ryan's horse (How) was a bit keen in front and got a bit tired."

At Haydock, meanwhile, Profitable, a very progressive sprinter, continued the great start to the season for owner Alan Spence when taking the Group Two Temple Stakes after a protracted battle with the mare Mecca's Angel. The colt, who was lucky not to be kicked by the runner-up at the start, won by a neck.

Clive Cox will now send Profitable to the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. "We were concerned about the rain," he said. "He's definitely a better horse on better ground." Winning jockey Adam Kirby said: "He was a boy last year, he's a man now.

He's got speed to burn and wasn't doing a tap when he got his head in front." Meanwhile Andrea Atzeni, who gave as good a demonstration as you will ever see of winning a tight finish without recourse to the whip on Mount Logan at Goodwood yesterday, will have his best chance of winning the Investec Derby on Saturday week after it was announced yesterday he will ride Ulysses for Sir Michael Stoute.

The Galileo colt, owned by the Niarchos family, is a 14-1 shot after winning a Newbury maiden by eight lengths without being asked earlier this month.

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