O'Brien eyes more Gold after Fame's Navan win
CLASSY stayer Fame And Glory showed he will not relinquish his Ascot crown easily by proving the highlight of a Ballydoyle treble at Navan yesterday.
Aidan O'Brien's six-year-old warmed up for the defence of his Gold Cup at Royal Ascot next month by capturing the Vintage Crop Stakes in resolute fashion.
Successful in the same Listed race 12 months ago, the former Coronation Cup winner got the better of Dermot Weld's mare Unaccompanied after a prolonged duel throughout the final two furlongs.
The 5/4 favourite prevailed by a neck with rider Joseph O'Brien not giving the son of Montjeu an unduly hard race on his first outing since October.
Table Mountain made the running with Fame And Glory hot on his heels before going on a long way from home to make it a true test of stamina.
Unaccompanied and Steps To Freedom ranged alongside but Fame And Glory had the class to take his winning tally to 14 from 22 starts.
"He ran quite fresh down the back," explained the rider. "I had a nice position on the bend going away from the stands and then he changed his legs and took off a bit. He just got a bit tired, which he was entitled to on his first run of the year."
O'Brien was standing in for Fame And Glory's usual partner Jamie Spencer, who is serving a three-day ban. The winner was cut to 2/1 favourite with most bookmakers for the Gold Cup on June 21.
The Ballydoyle team also struck with Cristoforo Colombo (7/2) and Offer. The former could go to Royal Ascot after making a winning debut in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden.
He struck the front a furlong and a half from home, taking a couple of lengths out of the field in a matter of strides and went on to score cosily by a length and a half from Scream Blue Murder.
"He jumped and travelled well and was quite green in front," said O'Brien Jnr. "He's by Henrythenavigator, who was a good moving horse and he would appreciate a bit faster ground."
Tammy O'Brien, representing the owner Mrs John Magnier, added: "He is likely to be part of the Royal Ascot team."
Offer (1/9) duly landed the odds in the navanracecourse.ie Maiden as he opened his account with the minimum of fuss, coming home four and a quarter lengths ahead of newcomer Civil War.
My Girl Anna (9/2 favourite) just held Luisant by a nose in the sprint handicap for trainer Muredach Kelly and jockey Rory Cleary.
"She's always knocking on the door. We decided to change tactics a bit today and held on to her for a while," Cleary said. "She just held on in the finish but she deserved it."
Tommy Stack and Billy Lee combined to land the closing maiden with outsider Coin Of Courage (20/1), while Andrew Oliver's Jazz Girl (5/1) was a game winner of the EBF Fillies' Handicap under Chris Hayes.
"Chris gave her a great ride and she did it well," said Oliver. "I was a bit worried beforehand about the ground, but it dried up and she has done it well from the front. We'll give her a few weeks' break and she'll continue handicapping around that trip."
Ger Lyons' Kashmir Peak (6/1) won its first race at the 11th attempt when taking the mile-and-a-quarter handicap thanks to an inspired ride from Johnny Murtagh, who got him up to win by a neck from Lord Jim.
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