Klimt lays Guineas claim
Gustav Klimt booked his ticket for Newmarket in swooping late to bag the Ballylinch Stud 2,000 Guineas Trial Stakes at Leopardstown yesterday.
Aidan O'Brien's charge had been off the track since winning the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket last July, but punters were still keen on his chances, sending him off the 6/4 favourite for the seven-furlong event.
Ryan Moore settled his mount last of the four runners, with stablemate Kenya setting the gallop, and still had plenty of ground to make up when the race-fit Imaging kicked for home in the straight.
But Moore kept his cool and as Gustav Klimt really started to motor, the Galileo colt eventually eased to the lead to run out a cosy length-and-three-quarter winner and is now a general 5/1 for the Newmarket classic next month .
"We're very happy. Obviously the ground was far from ideal, but it was nice to get a run into him as it's a long time since he ran. Ryan was very happy with him," said O'Brien.
"Ryan said he was very impressed with the way he quickened in that ground. He's a real good ground horse. Newmarket [Qipco 2000 Guineas on May 5] is the plan if everything is well."
Kenya was an 11-length third, with last year's champion juvenile US Navy Flag last of the four, a further two and three-quarter lengths adrift, although O'Brien was not too disheartened.
He added: "We knew he'd hate the ground, but he needed to get out and Donnacha's [O'Brien, rider of Kenya] horse will stay further. US might go to the Guineas now and he'll grow another leg between now and then."
Who's Steph sprang a minor surprise as she triumphed at odds of 10-1 in the Group Three Ballylinch Stud 'Priory Belle' 1,000 Guineas Trial Stakes.
Ger Lyons' runner benefited from a smart ride from Colin Keane, who was firmly in control turning for home, with market leaders I Can Fly and the well-touted Yulong Gold Fairy primed to challenge for O'Brien and Dermot Weld respectively.
However, while both those fillies gave it their best efforts down the middle of the track, Who's Steph found a little extra under pressure to win by a length and a half. Lyons will now have to consider the options for his daughter of Zoffany, as she does not hold any Classic entries.
"The second closing of the Irish Guineas was the other day and I said to the lads 'ah, we'll leave it, don't be silly'," said Lyons.
"She did that well and went through the ground, we know she wants it. If it was good ground we wouldn't have run her because she wants every bit of a mile."
Asked as to the possible next engagement, Lyons insists that his team will take their time in assessing next steps but hinted that the filly may be sold.
"We'll go home, sit down and make a plan. The dream is still alive at the moment, but we don't have big early closing entries with her," he said.
"I'm not a traveller, I love staying at home, so we'll find something here for her and there will be no firm in it.
"There's every chance she could come back here [to Leopardstown] next month, but if a good offer comes in, she'll be sold because she's a filly. This is the first batch of fillies we've ever bought."
Sunday Indo Sport