Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 18 February 2018

No luck for Joseph O'Brien as he returns to the flat

Joseph O'Brien returns after East India's defeat
Joseph O'Brien returns after East India's defeat

Joseph O'Brien was out of luck as he returned to action on the Flat with two rides at Cork on a fine day for Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen.

Dual champion jockey O'Brien missed the opening exchanges of the turf season at the Curragh last weekend after being described as "a little heavy" by his father, Aidan, and instead rode over hurdles for the first time at Limerick on the same afternoon.

O'Brien jnr was also absent from Wednesday evening's all-weather fixture at Dundalk, leading to more speculation about his long-term future, but the jockey insists he is getting to grips with his weight and was back in the saddle on East India in the Rated Race.

East India was never a factor, however, with the distress signals being sent out by O'Brien rounding the home turn and he was eventually last of the five runners.

Postulation had set the pace up front but was joined by eventual winner Success Days over a furlong out, with the pair settling down to fight it out from there and the latter gaining the day late on for a length success.

O'Brien said: "My weight is good and I'm looking forward to riding again later."

Winning trainer Ken Condon said: "He wants an ease (in the ground) but Shane (Foley) said it is very extreme out there.

"He relaxed well and seems to have grown up and will get an entry in the Ballysax Stakes next."

Massinga continued where she left off last season as she recorded an authoritative success in the feature Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Noblesse Stakes.

The Weld-trained filly ended 2014 with two wins and was the 8-11 favourite to make it a hat-trick stepping up to Listed class.

As the front-running Queen Of Alba came back to the field, Massinga and Altesse could be spotted travelling best and after a brief tussle from two out the favourite asserted in the final 200 yards.

Weld said: "The way she got home there we have a lot to look forward to and possibly the Munster Oaks back here in June will be her next race. Whatever she does in the spring of this year it is only in the autumn that you will see her, she is going to be very good.

"If we get a wet spring she could drop back to 10 furlongs in the Mooresbridge Stakes at the Curragh next month but if we get a nice spring she is more likely to run in the Munster Oaks.

"She is very effective on that ground but isn't limited to it, and will be the real deal in the second part of the season.

"We've won this race several times and hopefully this filly is as good as any."

It was a double for Weld and Smullen in the Aga Khan silks after Shahzeena (4-6) impressed on her debut in the Like Us On Facebook Median Auction Fillies Maiden.

Weld said: "She's a nice filly and worked very well before coming here and did what I thought she'd do.

"I hope she progresses to get black type and that will be her next plan. She has a Guineas entry, but will run in a Classic Trial before then."

There was no happy ending to the afternoon for O'Brien as his second and final mount on the card, Hans Holbein in the Blackwater Maiden, proved no match for Summaya despite being sent off the 8-15 favourite.

The 10-1 winner, completing a treble for Weld and Smullen in the Aga Khan colours, led all the way and kicked clear of the market leader after engaging in a brief struggle entering the final two furlongs.

Weld said: "She was fit, goes on that ground and they were both factors in her favour. She will go for handicaps now."

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