O'Brien delight at Camelot's smooth comeback
Aidan O'Brien didn't hide his relief after Camelot showed all his Classic sparkle by making a winning return in yesterday's High Chaparral EBF Mooresbridge Stakes at the Curragh.
The son of Montjeu only just missed out on Triple Crown glory in the Doncaster St Leger last September, having earlier added the English-Irish Derby double to his gutsy success in last year's 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.
But there were fears the Ballydoyle star would not race again after undergoing surgery for colic having failed to run up to expectations on his final three-year-old start in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp.
Despite that, the noises from the O'Brien camp this spring have been encouraging and he was sent off 1/3 favourite to take this Group Three prize on his eagerly-awaited comeback.
The presence of Jim Bolger's Parish Hall added spice to the contest and Camelot was settled last of the five runners before moving up menacingly rounding the home turn.
Bringing his mount to the middle of the track, Joseph O'Brien just had to shake him up and did not resort to his whip. Camelot duly quickened to beat stablemate Triumphant by a length and three-quarters, with Parish Hall disappointing in third.
"I'm delighted with that," remarked O'Brien. "He had big colic surgery in the winter and you never really know what is going to happen, but he has all his class and speed still so it's great.
"It was major open surgery, and after the surgery is a massive time. He went to Coolmore and was not with us for months. You take one race at a time, but the plan was always to start here, come back here for the Tattersalls Gold Cup (May 26) and then the Prince of Wales's Stakes (at Royal Ascot).
"He has a lot of speed – I know he got a mile and a half last year but you saw the speed he has today."
Camelot's victory was the second leg of a double for the O'Briens after 2/9 shot Michaelmas justified odds-on favouritism with a workmanlike victory in the opening juvenile maiden.
"There is a winners' race in Naas (May 15) he might go for," said the trainer. "He was lazy and idling away and that's why he let him gallop along."
Eddie Lynam is dreaming of Classic glory with Viztoria after she made a winning comeback in the Group Three Canford Cliffs EBF Athasi Stakes.
A winner of her first two starts as a juvenile and second in a Group Three in France, the evens favourite saw out the seven furlongs well under Johnny Murtagh to win by a length from Bunairgead. "Johnny was happy and the trainer is not unhappy," said Lynam. "We can dream for another 20 days."
Paul Deegan has his horses in fine fettle and the trainer's Sruthan could be Royal Ascot-bound after making it two wins from two with a stylish performance under Chris Hayes in the Tetrarch Stakes.
"I don't know where he will go next but we always thought a bit of him and aiming high I think he could be a Jersey Stakes horse," said Deegan.
Willie McCreery's Valbucca won on her first start of the campaign with a determined effort under Wayne Lordan in the 10-furlong handicap.
Pat Shanahan's Scotland Forever responded well to Tadhg O'Shea's urgings to take the six-furlong maiden by a nose from Wexford Opera, while Michael Halford and Shane Foley combined to land the seven-furlong handicap with Slipper Orchid.
Champion trainer Willie Mullins took the closing bumper as his Made In Germany made all the running in the hands of son Patrick.